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A Connecticut Yankee 



IX 



King Arthur's Court. 



BV 



MARK TWAIN 




TORONTO : 

ROSE PUBLISHING COMPANY, 
1890. 



Entered according to the Act of the Parhament of Canada, in the year one thousand 
eight hundred and eighty-nine, by Andrew Chatto, at the Department of Agri- 
culture. 



P5 



3o^ 



PRINTED AND BOUND 
BY 

HUNTER, ROSE & CO, 

TORONTO. 



\ 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

Preface 15 

A Word ok Explanation 1 7-23 

CHAPTER I. 
Camelot. 27-30 

CHAPTER n. 
King Arthur's Court 33-40 

CHAPTER HI. 
Knights of the Table Round 43-49 

CHAPTER IV. 
Sir Dinadan the Humorist 53-57 

CHAPTER V. 
An Inspiration. 61-08 

CHAPTER VI. 
The Eclipse 71-79 

CHAPTER VII. 
Merlin's Tower S3-91 

CHAPTER VIII. 
The Boss 95-103 

CHAPTER IX. 

The Tournament 107-113 

r 



\1 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER X. PAGE 

Beginnings of Civilization 1 17-123 

CHAPTER XI. 
The Yankee in Search ok Adventures 127-137 

CHAPTER XH. 
Slow Torture 141-147 

CHAPTER XHI. 
Freemen! 151-161 

CHAPTER XIV. 
" Defend Thee, Lord!" 165-171 

CHAPTER XV. 
Sandy's Tale 175-1S5 

CHAPTER XVI. 
Morgan le Fay 189-197 

CHAPTER XVn. 
A Royal Banquet 201-212 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
In the Queen's Dungeons 215-227 

CHAPTER XIX. 
Knight Errantry as a Trade 231-235 

CHAPTER XX. 
The Ogre's Castle 239-247 

CHAPTER XXI. 
The Pilgrims 251-265 

CHAPTER XXII. 
The Holy Fountain 269-2S2 



CONTENTS. ' vil 

CHAPTER XXIII. PAGE 

Rkstoration of the Fountain 2S5-295 

CHAPTER XXIV. 
A Rival Magician 299-311 

CHAPTER XXV. 
A Competitive Examination 315-330 

CHAPTER XXVI. 
The First Newspaper 333-344 

CHAPTER XXVII. 
The Yankee and the King Travel Incognito 347-357 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 
Drilling the King 361-366 

CHAPTER XXIX. 
The Small- Pox Hut 369-376 

CHAPTER XXX. 
The Tragedy of the Manor-House 379-391 

CHAPTER XXXI. 
Marco 395-404 

CHAPTER XXXII. 
Dowley's Humiliation 407-416 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 
Sixth Century Political Economy 419-433 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 
The Yankee and the King Sold as Slaves 437-451 

CHAPTER XXXV. 
A Pitiful Incident 455-464 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXXVI. page 

An Encounter in the Dark 467-472 

CHAPTER XXX VH. 
An Awful Predicament 475-484 

CHAPTER XXXVHI. 
Sir Launcelot and Knights to the Rescue 4S7-491 

CHAPTER XXXIX. 
The Yankee's Fight with the Knights 495-507 

CHAPTER XL. 
Three Years Later 511-520 

CHAPTER XLI. 
The Interdict 523-528 

CHAPTER XLII. 
War! 531-545 

CHAPTER XLIII. 
The Battle of the Sand-Belt 549-56"; 

CHAPTER XLIV. 
A Postscript by Clarence 569-575 



t^ 



List ok ili^tistrations. 



PAGE 

' ' I saw he meant business. " {Frontispiece. ) 

Initial Letter. {A Word of Explanation.) 1 7 

The Stranger's Story 21 

Tail-piece -3 

The Tale of the Lost Land 25 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter I.) 27 

" The head of the cavalcade swept forward." 29 

The Round Table 3i 

Initial Letter. {Chapter II.) 33 

" That will do," I said, " I reckon you are a patient." 35 

" Go 'long," I said, " you ain't more than a paragraph." 3S 

Merlin 4i 

Initial Letter. {Chapter III.) 43 

" The flies buzzed and bit unmolested." 46 

" Sir Arthur took it up by the handles." 47 

"This horrible sky-towering monster." 51 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter IV.) 53 

The Practical Joker's Joke 54 

' ' Queen Guenever was as naively interested as the rest. " 56 

The King 59 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter V. ) 61 

" Oh, beware! These are awful words!" 63 

" He was frighted even to the marrow." 66 

Sir Boss 69 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter VI.) 71 

*' It was a noble effect." 74 

" Smothered with blessings." 78 

One of the People Si 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter VII. ) S3 

" There was no soap, no matches, no looking-glass." S4 

' ' The reverent and awe-stricken multitudes. " 86 

" That old tower leaped into the sky in chunks." go 



X LIS T OF ILL US TRA TIONS. 

I'AGE 

"That was the Church." (j3 

Initial Letter. {Chapter V'lII.) 95 

" Why, they were nothing but rabbits!" 97 

" Inherited ideas are a curious thing." 99 

The Earth Belongs to the People 

All Men are Born Free and Equal 

Sir Sagramor le Desirous 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter IX. ) 

" Sing, dance, carouse every night." 

" Detailed an intelligent priest, and ordered him to report it." 

Some of the Boys Going a Grailing 

" For I was afraid of the Church." 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter X.) 

" The nineteenth century booming under its very nose." 

A West Pointer 

A Middy from My Naval Academy 

Sandy 

"The boys helped me, or I never could have got in." {Chapter XI.) 

The Three Brothers, as Described by Sandy 

"Great Scott, can't you understand a little thing like that?" 

" And so we started." 

Ye Iron Dude 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XII.) 

The Journey 

Effect of the Sun on the Iron Clothes 

"She continued to fetch and pour until I was well soaked." 

Audi Alteram 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XIII.) 

" By a sarcasm of law and phrase they were freemen." 

" To subtract the nation and leave behind some dregs." 

Burial of a Freeman 

Two of a Kind 

"They thought I was one of those fire-belching dragons." 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XIV.) 

Effect of the Pipe on the Freemen 

Effect of the Pipe on Sandy 

" Defend thee. Lord! Peril of life is toward!" 

" They came in a body, they came with a whirr." 

The Three Maids 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XV.) 

Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine 

" Look out and hold on tight." 

Marhaus, Son of the King of Ireland, from an Effigy found in the Castle 

" It was the largest castle we had seen." 



LIST OF ILLUSTRA TIONS. XI 

rAGE 

Mrs. Le Fay 187 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XVI.) 1S9 

" This would undermine the Church." igo 

Sir Cote Male Taile 192 

"We were challenged by the warders, and after parley admitted." 194 

King Uriens i99 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XVII.) 201 

' ' After prayers we had dinner. " 202 

' ' Original agony. " 203 

' ' I caught a picture that will not go from me. " 208 

" They have a right to their view. I only stand to this." 213 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XVIII. ) 215 

The Church, the King, the Nobleman, and the Freeman 21S 

The Queen's Own 223 

"Children of Monarchy by the Grace of God and the Established Church." 226 

" How old are you, Sandy ? " 229 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XIX.) 231 

"Then Sir Marhaus ran to the duke, and smote him with his spear." 233 

"The troublesomest old sow of the lot." 237 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XX.) 239 

Sandy with Roj'alty 243 

"We got the hogs home." 246 

Supreme Head of the Church, and Some Other Heads 249 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XXI. ) 251 

Sandy and The Boss at the Second Table 253 

" It had in it a sample of about all the upper occupations and professions.".... 257 

A Band of Slaves 260 

A Foundling 267 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XXII.) 269 

" There are ways to persuade him to abandon it." 273 

' At the twelfth repetition they fell apart in chunks." 275 

" He unlimbered his tongue and cursed like a bishop." 279 

The Spirit of the Church 2S3 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XXIII.) 285 

" The Abbot's solemn procession." 290 

" That fellow on the pillar, standing rigid." 292 

" Bgwjjilligkkk ! ! " 293 

" What is it you call it ? Chuckleheads." 297 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XXIV. ) 299 

" Sandy was worn out with nursing.". , 302 

Overbalanced 305 

The False Prophet going to Meet the King 310 

" A child's affair for simpleness." 313 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XXV.) 315 



X 1 1 us T ( )/■ //. r. us l^RA TIONS. 

PAGE 

" Next I " 3i(_) 

"Not a word of it could these catfish make head or tail of." 322 

Decorations of Sixth Century Aristocracy 326 

',' Latest eruption, only two cents. " 331 

Initial Letter. ( Chapltr XXVI. ) 333 

"Where Launcelot is, she noteth not the going forth of the king." 334 

" Hast seen Sir Launcelot about ? " 337 

" It was delicious to see a newspaper again." 33S 

Solid Comfort 343 

Barber to H. M. , the King 345 

Initial Letter. {C/iapter XXVII.) 347 

" Why do you not warn me to cease ? " 351 

Another Miracle 356 

The Spirit that Goeth with Burdens that have not Honor 359 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XXVIII. ) 361 

" \"arlet, serve to me what cheer ye have." 362 

' ' Brother to dirt like this ? " 363 

"Armor is heavy, vet it is a proud burden, and a man standeth straight in it.".. 365 

He was Great Now 367 

Initial Letter. {Chaptn- XXIX.) 369 

Some Manhood even in a King 373 

Under the Curse of Rome 375 

The Tree and the Fruit 377 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XXX. ) 379 

The Fire 382 

Pursuit 384 

" A tree is known by its fruits." 389 

' ' To the gentleman he was abject. " 393 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XXXI.) 395 

" Toward the monk the coal-burner was deeply reverent." 397 

" When a slave passed he couldn't see him." 400 

" Presently we struck an incident." 403 

" Walking on air, she was so proud." 405 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XXXII.) 407 

' ' And were soon as sociable as old acquaintances. " 409 

The Feast 413 

'Rah for Protection 1 417 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XXXIII. ) 419 

" Starving, eh ? Why don't you grow a nose like mine ? " 421 

Evolution 425 

Discrepancy in Noses makes no Difference 429 

My Lord, the Earl Grip 435 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XXXIV. ) 437 

"He was hungry for a fight. " 440 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. Xlll 

PACK 

" Yes, sire, that is about it, I am afraid." 443 

The Orator 447 

We Constituted the Rear of his Procession 450 

He was a Man 453 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XXX V.) 455 

On the Tramp 457 

Slaves Warming Themselves 460 

" A sample of one sort of London society." 462 

The Slave Driver 465 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XXXVI.) 467 

" Merely a great big village." 468 

Sandy Rode by on a Mule 469 

The Newsboy 471 

Sister, Your Blind is Disarranged 473 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XXXVII.) 475 

" It lay there all battered to pulp." 476 

Streets of London 479 

" He gave me a sudden look that bit right through into my marrow." 481 

Launcelot Swept In 485 

Sir Galahad takes a Header 487 

Knights Practicing on the Quiet 489 

"Who fails shall sup in Hell to-night." 490 

Slim Jim 493 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XXXIX. ) 495 

" Go it, Slim Jim!" 499 

" Great Scott, but there was a sensation." 501 

Brer Merlin Steals the Lariat 504 

Charge of the 500 Knights 507 

A Yard of Snowy Church-warden 509 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XL.) 511 

Three Years After 512 

" So we took a man-of-war." 517 

Catcher of the Ulster Nine 519 

Snuffing the Candle 521 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XLI.) 523 

" Hello-Central! " 525 

" Where was my great commerce ? " 527 

Sir Mordred 529 

Initial Letter. {Chapter XLII.) 531 

Deciding an Argument 533 

" The rest of the tale is just war, pure and simple." 535 

' ' Traitor, now is thy death day come. " 537 

" The Church is master now." 539 

One of the 52 547 



X 1 \' US T OF ILL US TRA TIONS. 

PAGE 

Initial Letter. {Cliaplcr XLIJL ) 549 

"I could imagine the baby goo-gooing." 550 

" The sun struck the sea of armor and set it all allash." 555 

High Church 559 

After the Explosion 5^2 

The Church puts its Foot in It 5^*5 

Transformation 5^7 

Initial Letter. ( Chapter XLIl '.) 5('9 

Tail-piece 57^ 

" Delirium, of course, but so reall " 572 

" Hands off ! my person is sacred." 573 

The End 575 



..> 



PRKKACB. 



The ungentle laws and customs touched upon in this tale are his- 
torical, and the episodes which are used to illustrate them are also 
historical. It is not pretended that these laws and customs existed in 
England in the sixth century ; no, it is only pretended that inasmuch 
as they existed in the English and other civilizations of far later times, 
it is safe to consider that it is no libel upon the sixth century to sup- 
pose them to have been in practice in that day also. One is quite 
justified in inferring that wherever one of these laws or customs was 
lacking in that remote time, its place was competently filled by a 
worse one. 

The question as to whether there is such a thing as divine right of 
kings is not settled in this book. It was found too difficult. That the 
executive head of a nation should be a person of lofty character and 
extraordinary ability, was manifest and indisputable ; that none but 
the Deity could select that head unerringly, was also manifest and 
indisputable ; that the Deity ought to make that selection, then, w^as 
likewise manifest and indisputable ; consequently, that He does make 
it, as claimed, was an unavoidable deduction. I mean, until the author 
of this book encountered the Pompadour, and Lady Castlemaine and 
some other executive heads of that kind ; these were found so difficult 
to work into the scheme, that it was judged better to take the other 
tack in this book, (which must be issued this fall,) and then go into 
training and settle the question in another book. It is of course a 
thing which ought to be settled, and I am not going to have anything 
particular to do next winter anyway. 

MARK TWAIN. 

Hartford, July 21, 1889. 



A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 



A WORD OF i'.XPLANATION. 

T was in Warwick Castle that I came across the curi- 
ous stranger whom I am going to talk about. He 
attracted me by three things : his candid simplic- 
ity, his marvelous familiarity with ancient armor, 
and the restfulness of his company — for he did all 
the talking. We fell together, as modest people 
will, in the tail of the herd that was being shown 
through, and he at once began to say things 
which interested me. As he talked along, softly, 
pleasantly, flowingly, he seemed to drift away 
^«i imperceptibly out of this world and time, and 
into some remote era and old forgotten country; 
and so he gradually wove such a spell about me 
that I seemed to move among the spectres and 
shadows and dust and mold of a gray antiquity, 
holding speech with a relic of it ! Exactly as I 
would speak of my nearest personal friends or 
enemies, or my most familiar neighbors, he spoke 
of Sir Bedivere, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Launcelot 
of the Lake, Sir Galahad, and all the other great 
names of the Table Round — and how old, old, 
unspeakably old and faded and dry and musty and ancient he came to 
look as he went on ! Presently he turned to me and said, just as one 
might speak of the weather, or any other common matter — 




I 8 A WORD OF F.XPLAh'ATTOM. 

" You know about tr.insniiL^ration of souls ; do \-ou know about 
transposition of epochs — and bodies ?" 

I said I had not heard of it. He was so little interested — ^just as 
when people speak of the weather — that he did not notice whether I, 
made him an}' answer or not. There was half a moment of silence, 
immediateh' interrupted b\- the droning voice of the salaried cicerone : 

" Ancient hauberk, date of the si.xth century, time of King Arthur 
and the Round Table ; said to ha\'e belonged to the knight Sir Sagra- 
mcM'e le Desirous ; observe the round hole through the chain-mail in 
the left breast ; can't be accounted for ; supposed to have been done 
with a bullet since invention of firearms — perhaps maliciously by 
Cromwell's soldiers." 

My acquaintance smiled — not a modern smile, but one that must 
have gone out of general use man}', many centuries ago — and muttered 
apparently to himself: 

" Wit ye well, I sazc it (four." Then, after a pause, added : " I did 
it myself." 

By the time I had recovered from the electric surprise of this re- 
mark, he was gone. 

All that evening I sat by my fire at the Warwick Arms, steeped in 
a dream of the olden time, while the rain beat upon the windows, and 
the wind roared about the eaves and corners. From time to time I 
dipped into old Sir Thomas Malory's enchanting book, and fed at its 
rich feast of prodigies and adventures, breathed-in the fragrance 
of its obsolete names, and dreamed again. Midnight being come 
at length, I read another tale, for a night-cap — this which here follows, 
to-wit : 

HOW SIR LAUNCELOT SLEW TWO GIANTS, AND MADE A CASTLE FREE. 

Anon withal came there upon him two great giants, well armed, all save the heads, 
with two horrible clubs in their hands. Sir Launcelot put his shield afore him, and put 
the stroke away of the one giant, and with his sword he clave his head asunder. When his 



A WORD OF EXPLANATION. 1 9 

fellow saw that, he ran away as he were wood,* for fear of the horrible strokes, and Sir 
Launcelot after him with all his might, and smote him on the shoulder, and clave him to 
the middle. Then Sir Launcelot went into the hall, and there came afore him three score 
ladies and damsels, and all kneeled unto him, and thanked God and him of their deliver- 
ance. For, sir, said they, the most part of us have been here this seven year their 
prisoners, and we have worked all manner of silk works for our meat, and we are all great 
gentlewomen born, and blessed be the time, knight, that ever thou wert born; for thou 
hast done the most worship that ever did knight in the world, that will we bear record, and 
we all pray you to tell us your name, that we may tell our friends who delivered us out 
of prison. Fair damsels, he said, my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. And so he 
departed from them and betaught them unto God. And then he mounted upon his 
horse, and rode into many strange and wild countries, and through many waters and val- 
leys, and evil was he lodged. And at the last by fortune him happened against a night 
to come to a fair courtelage, and therein he found an old gentlewoman that lodged him 
with a good will, and there he had good cheer for him and his horse. And when time 
was, his host brought him into a fair garret over the gate to his bed. There Sir Launcelot 
unarmed him, and set his harness by him, and went to bed, and anon he fell on sleep. So, 
soon after there came one on horseback, and knocked at the gate in great haste. And 
when Sir Launcelot heard this he arose up, and looked out at the window, and saw by 
the moon-light three knights come riding after that one man, and all three lashed on him 
at once with swords, and that one knight turned on them knightly again and defended 
him. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, yonder one knight shall I help, for it were shame 
for me to see three knights on one, and if he be slain I am partner of his death. And 
therewith he took his harness and went out at a window by a sheet down to the four 
knights, and then Sir Launcelot said on high. Turn you knights unto me, and leave 
your fighting with that knight. And then they all three left Sir Kay, and turned unto 
Sir Launcelot, and there began great battle, for they alight all three, and strake many 
strokes at Sir Launcelot, and assailed him on every side. Then Sir Kay dressed him for 
to have holpen Sir Launcelot. Nay, sir, said he, I will none of your help, there- 
fore as ye will have my help let me alone with them. Sir Kay for the pleasure of the 
knight suffered him for to do his will, and so stood aside. And then anon within six 
strokes Sir Launcelot had stricken them to the earth. 

And then they all three cried, Sir knight, we yield us unto you as man of might 
matchless. As to that, said Sir Launcelot, I will not take your yielding unto me, 
but so that ye yield you unto Sir Kay the seneschal, on that covenant I will save your 
lives and else not. Fair knight, said they, that were we loth to do; for as for Sir 
Kay we chased him hither, and had overcome him had ye not been; therefore, to yield 
us unto him it were no reason. Well, as to that, said Sir Launcelot, advise you 
well, for ye may choose whether ye will die or live, for an ye be yielden, it shall be 
unto Sir Kay. Fair knight, then they said, in saving our lives we will do as thou 
commandest us. Then shall ye, said Sir Launcelot, on Whitsunday next coming 
go unto the court of King Arthur, and there shall ye yield you unto Queen Guenever, 
and put you all three in her grace and mercy, and say that Sir Kay sent you thither to 

* Demented. 



20 ^ wo/kP of EXP/.AXA tiox. 

be her prisoners. On the morn Sir Launcelot arose early, ami left Sir Kay sleeping: and 
Sir Launcelot took Sir Kay's armour and his shield and armed him, and so he wefi'c to 
the stable and took his horse, and took his leave of his host, and so he departed. Then 
soon after arose Sir Kay and missed Sir Launcelot: and then he espied that he had his 
armour and his horse. Now by my faith I know well that he will grieve some of 
the court of King Arthur: for on him knights will be bold, and deem that it ^s I, and 
that will beguile them; and because of his armour and shield I am sure I shall ride in 
peace. And then soon after departed Sir Kay, and thanked his host. 

As I laid the book down there was a knock at the door, and my 
stranger came in. I gave him a pipe and a chair, and made him wel- 
come. I also comforted him with a hot Scotch whiskey; gave him 
another one; then still another — hoping always for his story. After 
a fourth persuader, he drifted into it himself, in a quite simple and 
natural way: 

THE stranger's HISTORY. 

I am an American. I was born and reared in Hartford, in the State 
of Connecticut — anyway, just over the river, in the country. So I am a 
Yankee of the Yankees — and practical; yes, and nearly barren of senti- 
ment, I suppose — or poetry, in other words. My father was a black- 
smith, my uncle was a horse doctor, and I was both, along at first. tfThen 
I went over to the great arms factory and learned my real trade; learned 
all there was to it; learned to make everything; guns, revolvers, 
cannon, boilers, engines, all sorts of labor-saving machinery. Why, I 
could make anything a body wanted — anything in the world, it didn't 
make any difference what; and if there wasn't any quick new-fangled 
way to make a thing, I could invent one — and do it as easy as rolling 
off a log. I became head superintendent; had a couple of thousand 
men under me. ) 

Well, a man like that is a man that is full of fight — that goes with- 
out saying. With a couple of thousand rough men under one, one has 
plenty of that sort of amusement. I had, anyway. At last I met my 
match, and I got my dose. It was during a misunderstanding con- 
ducted with crowbars with a fellow we used to call Hercules. He laid 



A PVOKD OF EXPLANATION. 




mc out with a crusher alongside 
made everything crack, and 
every joint in my skull and 
its neighbor. Then the world went 
ness, and I didn't feel an)'thing 
know anything at all — at least for a 
When I came to again, I was sitting under 
the grass, with a whole beautiful and broad 
scape all to myself — nearly. Not entirely; 
fellow on a horse, looking down at me — a 
of a picture-book. He was in old-time iron 
armor from head to heel, with a helmet on 
his head the shape of a nail- 
keg with slits in it; and he 
had a shield, and a sword, 
and a prodigious spear; and 
his horse had armor on, too, 
and a steel horn projecting 
from his forehead, and gor- 
geous red and green silk 
trappings that hung down all 
around him like a bed-quilt, 
nearly to the ground. 

"Fair sir, will ye just.''" 
said this fellow. 



the head that 
seemed to spring 
make it overlap 
out in dark- 
more, and didn't 
while. 

an oak tree, on 
country 1 a n d- 
for there was a 
fellow fresh out 




THE STRANGER S STORY. 



22 A H'OA'D OF EXPLANATION. 

••Will I which?" 

" Will ye try a passage of arms for land or lady or for — " 

" What arc }'ou givintj me?" I said. " Get along back to your cir- 
cus, or I'll report you." 

Now what does this man do but fall back a couple of hundred 
yards and then come rushing at me as hard as he could tear, with his 
nail-keg bent down nearly to his horse's neck and his long spear 
pointed straight ahead. I saw he meant business, so I was up the tree 
when he arrived. 

He allowed that I was his property, the captive of his spear. There 
■was argument on his side — and the bulk of the advantage — so I judged 
it best to humor him. We fixed up an agreement whereby I was to go 
with him and he was not to hurt me. I came down, and we started 
away, I walking by the side of his horse. We marched comfortably 
along, through glades and over brooks which I could not remember to 
have seen before — which puzzled me and made me wonder — and ytt 
we did not come to any circus or sign of a circus. So I gave up the 
idea of a circus, and concluded he was from an asylum. But we never 
came to any asylum — so I was up a stump, as you may say. I asked 
him how far we were from Hartford. He said he had never heard of 
the place; which I took to be a lie, but allowed it to go at that. At 
the end of an hour we saw a far-away town sleeping in a valley by a 
winding river; and be}'ond it on a hill, a vast gray fortress, with tow- 
ers and turrets, the first I had ever seen out of a picture. 

" Bridgeport T' said I, pointing. 

*' Camelot," said he. 



My stranger had been showing signs of sleepiness. He caught him- 
self nodding, now, and smiled one of those pathetic, obsolete smiles of 
his, and said: 



A IVOJ^D OF EXI'LANATIOX. 23 

" I find 1 can't g"o on; but come with me, I've got it all written out, 
and }ou can read it if }'ou like." 

In his chamber, he said: " First, I kept a journal; then by and by, 
after years, I took the journal and turned it into a book. How long 
ago that was!" 

He handed me his manuscript, and pointed out the place where I 
should begin: 

" Begin here — I've already told you what goes before." He was 
steeped in drowsiness by this time. As I went out at his door I heard 
him murmur sleepily: " Give you good den, fair sir." 

I sat down by m}' fire and examined my treasure. The first part 
of it — the great bulk of it — was parchment, and yellow with age. I 
scanned a leaf particularly and saw that it was a palimpsest. Under 
the old dim writing of the Yankee historian appeared traces of a pen- 
manship which was older and dimmer still — Latin words and sentences: 
fragments from old monkish legends, evidently. I turned to the place 
indicated by my stranger and began to read — as follows. 




^ 




-^A 



CHAPTER I. 



CAMELOT. 



AMELOT— Camelot," said I to myself. "I 
don't seem to remember hearing of it be- 
fore. Name of the asylum, likely." 

It was a soft, reposeful summer land- 
scape, as lovely as a dream, and as lone- 
some as Sunday. The air was full of the 
smell of flowers, and the buzzing of in- 
sects, and the twittering of birds, and 
there were no people, no wagons, there 
was no stir of life, nothing going on. The 
road was mainl}' a winding path with hoof- 
prints in it, and now and then a faint trace 
of wheels on either side in the grass — 
"wheels that apparently had a tire as 
broad as one's hand. 

Presently a fair slip of a girl, about ten 
N.--_j years old, with a cataract of golden hair 
streaming down o\-er her shoulders, came along. Around her head 
she v.'ore a hoop of flame-red poppies. It was as sweet an outfit as 
ever I saw, what there was of it. She walked indolently along, with 
a mind at rest, its peace reflected in her innocent face. The circus 
man paid no attention to her; didn't even seem to see her. And she 
— slie was no more startled at his fantastic make-up than if she was 
used to his like every day of her life. She was going b}' as indiffer- 







28 CAMEf.OT. 

cntly as she might have gone by a couple of cows; but when she 
happened to notice me, then there was a change! Up went her 
hands, and she was turned to stcne; her mouth dropped open, her 
eyes stared wide and timorously, she was the picture of astonished 
curiosity touched with fear. And tliere she stood gazing, in a sort 
of stupefied fascination, till we turned a corner of the wood and 
were lost to her view. That she should be startled at me instead 
of at the other man, was too many for me; I couldn't make head or 
tail of it. And that she should seem to consider me a spectacle, and 
totally overlook her own merits in that respect, was another puzzling 
thing, and a display of magnanimity, too, that was surprising in one so 
young. There was food for thought here. I moved along as one in a 
dream. 

As we approached the town, signs of life began to appear. At 
intervals we passed a wretched cabin, with a thatched roof, and about 
it small fields and garden patches in an indifferent state of cultivation. 
There were people, too; brawny men. with long, coarse, uncombed 
hair that hung down over their faces and made them look like 
animals. They and the women, as a rule, wore a coarse tow-linen 
robe that came well below the knee, and a rude sort of sandals, and 
many wore an iron collar. The small boys and girls were always 
naked; but nobody seemed to know it. All of these people stared at 
me, talked about me, ran into the huts and fetched out their families 
to gape at me; but nobody ever noticed that other fellow, except to 
make him humble salutation and get no response for their pains. 

In the town were some substantial windowless houses of stone 
scattered among a wilderness of thatched cabins; the streets were 
mere crooked alleys, and unpaved; troops of dogs and nude children 
played in the sun and made life and noise; hogs roamed and rooted 
contentedly about, and one of them lay in a reeking wallow in the 
middle of the main thoroughfare and suckled her famil)-. Presently 



CAME LOT. 



29 



there was a distant blare of military music ; it came nearer, still 
nearer, and soon a noble cavalcade wound into view, glorious with 
plumed helmets and flashing mail and flaunting ban- 
ners and rich doublets and horse-cloths and gilded 
spearheads; and through 
the muck and swine, and 




breezy height where the huge castle 
stood. There was an ex- 
ge of bugle blasts ; then 
.rley from the walls, 
where men-at-arms, in 
hauberk and morion 
marched back and forth 



" THE HEAD OF THE CAVALCADE SWEPT FORWARD." 

with halberd at shoulder under flapping banners with the rude figure 
of a dragon displayed upon them ; and then the great gates were flung 



30 CAMELOT. 

open, the drawbridge was lowered, and the head of the cavalcade 
swept forward under the frowning arches; and we, following, soon 
found ourselves in a great paved court, with towers and turrets stretch- 
ing up into the blue air on all the four sides; and all about us the 
dismount was going on, and much greeting and ceremony, and run- 
ning to and fro, and a gay display of moving and intermingling colors, 
and an altogether pleasant stir and noise and confusion. 



CHAPTER II. 



KING ARTHUR S COURT. 



SHE moment I got a chance I slipped aside privately 
and touched an ancient common looking man on the 
shoulder and said, in an insinuating, 
confidential way — 

"Friend, do me a kindness. Do 
you belong to the asylum, or are you 
: here on a visit or somc- 
:ig like that .'*" 
He looked me over stu- 
pidly, and said — 

"Marry, fair sir, 
me seemeth — " 

"That will do," I 
said; "I reckon you 
are a patient." 

I moved away, 
cogitating, and at the 
same time keeping an 
eye out for any chance 
passenger in his right 
mind that might come along and give me some light. I judged I had 
found one, presently; so I drew him aside and said in his ear — 
"If I could see the head keeper a minute — only just a minute — " 
"Prithee do not let me." 

2» 33 




34 



h'ING AKVHL'jR'S COURT. 



" Let you zvhat / " 

''Hinder iiic, tlicii. if the word please thee better." Then he went 
on to say he was an luuler-cook and ecnild not stop to gossip, though 
he would like it another time; for it would comfort his very liver to 
know where I got my clothes. As he started away he pointed and 
said yonder was one who was idle enough for my purpose, and was 
seeking me besides, no doubt. This was an airy slim boy in shrimp- 
colored tights that made him look like a forked carrot; the rest of his 
gear was blue silk and dainty laces and ruffles; and he had long yel- 
low curls, and wore a plumed pink satin cap tilted complacently over 
his ear. By his look, he was good-natured; by his gait, he was satis- 
fied with himself. He was pretty enough to frame. He arrived, looked 
me over with a smiling and impudent curiosity; said he had come for 
me, and informed me that he was a page. 

" Go 'long," I said; "you ain't more than a paragraph." 

It was pretty severe, but I was nettled. However, it never phazed 
him; he didn't appear to know he was hurt. He began to talk and 
laugh, in happy, thoughtless, boyish fashion, as we walked along, and 
made himself old friends with me at once; asked me all sorts of ques- 
tions about myself and about my clothes, but never waited for an 
answer — always chattered straight ahead, as if he didn't know he had 
asked a question and wasn't expecting any reply, until at last he hap- 
pened to mention that he was born in the beginning of the year 513. 

It made the cold chills creep over me ! I stopped, and said, a little 
faintly: 

" Maybe I didn't hear you just right. Say it again — and say it slow. 
What year was it .'' " 

"513-" 

" 513 ! You don't look it ! Come, my boy, I am a stranger and 
friendless: be honest and honorable with me. Are you in your right 
mind .'' " 



KING ARTHUR'S COURT. 



35 



He said he was. 

"Are these other people in their right minds?" 
He said they were. 

"And this isn't an asylum? I mean, it isn't a place where they 
cure crazy people?" 

He said it wasn't. 

"Well, then," I said, "either I am a lunatic, or something 

just as awful has happened. Now 
tell me, honest and true, where 
am I ? " 

" In King Ar- 
thur's Court." 

I waited a min- 
ute, to let that idea 
shudder its way 
home, and then 
said: 

"And accord- 
ing to your no- 
tions, what year is 
it now ?" 

"528 — nine- 
teenth of June." 

I felt a mourn- 
ful sinking at the 
~^heart, and mutter- 
ed: "I shall never see my friends again — never, never again. They 
will not be born for more than thirteen hundred years yet." 

I seemed to believe the boy, I didn't know why. Something in me 
seemicd to believe him — my consciousness, as you may say; but my 
reason didn't. My reason straightway began to clamor; that was 




36 A'nVC ARTHUR'S COURT. 

natural. T tlidn't know how to go about satisfying it, because I knew 
that the testimony of men wouldn't serve — my reason would say they 
were lunatics, and throw out their evidence. But all of a sudden I 
stumbled on the very thing, just by luck. I knew that the only total 
eclipse of the sun in the first half of the sixth century occurred on the 
2ist of June, A. I). 528, O. S., and began at 3 minutes after 12 noon. I 
also knew that no total eclipse of the sun was due in what to me was 
the present year — /. c, 1879. ^O' ^^ ^ could keep my anxiety and 
curiosity from eating the fi^art out of me for forty-eight hours, I should 
then find out for certain whether this boy was telling me the truth or 
not. 

Wherefore, being a practical Connecticut man, I now shoved this 
whole problem clear out of my mind till its appointed day and hour 
should come, in order that I might turn all my attention to the cir- 
cumstances of the present moment, and be alert and ready to make 
the most out of them that could be made. One thing at a time, is my 
motto — and just play that thing for all it is worth, even if it's only tv.o 
pair and a jack. I made up my mind to two things; if it was still the 
nineteenth century and I was among lunatics and couldn't get away, 
I would presently boss that asylum or know the reason why; and if 
on the other hand it was really the sixth century, all right, I didn't 
want any softer thing: I would boss the whole country inside of three 
months; for I judged I would have the start of the best-educated man 
in the kingdom by a matter of thirteen hundred years and upwards. 
I'm not a. man to waste time after my mind's made up and there's 
work on hand; so I said to the page — 

"Now, Clarence, my, boy — if that might happen to be your name — 
I'll get you x..^ ; "^t^ • - i^.-Jittle if- you don't mind. What is the 
name of that appariti^w. .. ^-'on, with- -^ here.'" 

m " My master and thine.' i'n they ' ''' '^mght and great lord 
Sir Kav the Seneschal, foster br ^'\"o Jur liege the king." 



KIXG .4/f7'//L'A"S COURT. 37 

"Very good; go on, tell me ever}thing." 

He made a long story of it; but the part that had immediate 
interest for me was this. He said I was Sir Kay's prisoner, and that 
in the due course of custom I would be flung into a dungeon and left 
there on scant commons until my friends ransomed me — unless I 
chanced to rot, first. 1 saw that the last chance had the best show, 
but I didn't waste any bother about that; time was too precious. 
The page said, further, that dinner was about ended in the great hall 
by this time, and that as soon as the sociability and the heavy drink- 
ing should begin. Sir Kay would have me in and exhibit me before 
King Arthur and his illustrious knights seated at the Table Round, 
and would brag about his exploit in capturing me, and would probably 
exaggerate the facts a little, but it wouldn't be good form for me to 
correct him, and not over safe, either; and when I was done being 
exhibited, then ho for the dungeon; but he, Clarence, would find a 
way to come and see me every now and then, and cheer me up, and 
help me get word to my friends. 

Get word to my friends! I thanked him; I couldn't do less; and 
about this time a lackey came to say I was wanted; so Clarence led 
mc in and took me off to one side and sat down by me. 

Well, it was a curious kind of spectacle, and interesting. It was an 
immense place, and rather naked — yes, and full of loud contrasts. It 
was very, very lofty; so lofty that the banners depending from the 
arched beams and girders away up there floated in a sort of twilight; 
there was a stone-railed gallery at each end, high up, with musicians 
in the one, and women, clothed in stunning colors, in the other. The 
floor was of big stone flags laid in black and white squares, rather bat- 
tered by age and use, and needing rc^ '^ "*">"i ^ '"^mcunent, there 
wasn't any, strictly speaking; th .-i^te thej:)"^r'^''\^^ hung some huge 
tapestries which wt ^^ " , cales ^g works of art; battle-pieces, 

they were, with ho? . £ me almost' -ge which children cut out of 



38 



KIXG ARTHUIi'S COURT. 



paper or create in i^ine^crbread; with men on thcin in scale armor 
whose scales arc rcprescnteti by round holes — so that the man's coat 
looks as if it had been done with a biscuit-punch. There was a fire- 
place big enough to camp in; and its projecting sides and hood, of 




"GO 'long," I said; "you ain't more than a paragraph." 

carved and pillared stone-work, had the look of a cathe- 
dral door. } long the walls stood men-at-arms, in breast- 
*■ plate and monon, witP. halberds for their only weapon — 

rigid as statues; and that is what they looked like. 

In the middle of this groined n'\-^ jur lieg public square was an 



A'ING AJil'NUR'S COUJiT. 39 

oaken table which they called the Table Round. It was as large as a 
circus ring; and around it sat a great company of men dressed in such 
various and splendid colors that it hurt one's eyes to look at them. 
They wore their plumed hats, right along, except that whenever one 
addressed himself directly to the king, he lifted his hat a trifle just as 
he was beginning his remark. 

Mainly they were drinking — from entire ox horns; but a few were 
still munching bread or gnawing beef bones. There was about an 
average of two dogs to one man; and these sat in expectant attitudes 
till a spent bone was flung to them, and then they went for it by bri- 
gades and divisions, with a rush, and there ensued a fight which filled 
the prospect with a tumultuous chaos of plunging heads and bodies 
and flashing tails, and the storm of bowlings and barkings deafened all 
speech for the time; but that was no matter, for the dog-fight was 
always a bigger interest anyway; the men rose, sometimes, to observe 
it the better and bet on it, and the ladies and the musicians stretched 
themselves out over their balusters with the same object; and all 
broke into delighted ejaculations from time to time. In the end, the 
winning dog stretched himself out comfortably with his bone between 
his paws, and proceeded to growl over it, and gnaw it, and grease the 
floor with it, just as fifty others were already doing; and the rest of 
the court resumed their previous industries and entertainments. 

As a rule the speech and behavior of these people were gracious [ 
and courtly; and I noticed that they were good and serious listeners 
when anybody was telling anything — I mean in a dog-fightless inter- 
val. And plainly, too, they were a chilcilike and innocent lot; tell- i 
ing lies of the stateliest pattern with a most gentle and winning 
naivety, and ready and willing to listen to anybody else's lie, and 
believe it, too. It was hard to associate them with anything cruel or 
dreadful ; and yet they dealt in tales of blood and suffering with a \ 
guileless relish that made me almost forget to shudder. 



40 AIiVG ARVHUR'S COURT. 

J was not the only prisoner present. There were twenty or more. 
Poor devils, many of them were maimed, hacked, carved, in a fri<^ht- 
ful way; and their hair, their faces, their chjthinLj, were caked with 
black and stiffened drenchings of blood. They were suffering sharp 
physical pain, of course; and weariness, and hunger and thirst, no 
doubt; and at least none had given them the comfort of a wash, or 
even the poor charity of a lotion for their wounds; yet you never 
heard them utter a moan or a groan, or saw them show any sign of 
restlessness, or any disposition to complain. The thought was forced 
upon me: "The rascals — t/ny have served other people so in their 
day; it being their own turn, now, they were not expecting any better 
treatment than this; so their philosophical bearing is not an outcome 
of mental training, intellectual fortitude, reasoning; it is mere animal 
training; they are white Indians." 




•^\ 




CHAPTER III. 



KNIGHTS OF THE TABLE ROUND. 



AINLY the Round Table talk was "\ 
monologues — narrative accounts of \ 
the adventures in which these pris- 
oners were captured and their friends 
and backers killed and stripped of ( 
their steeds and armor. 



eral thing 



As a gen- 
as far as I could make out — these murder- 
ous adventures were not forays undertaken to avenge 
injuries, nor to settle old disputes or sudden fallings 
out; no, as a rule they were simply duels between 
strangers — duels between people who had never even 
been introduced to each other, and between whom 
existed no cause of offense whatever. Many a time I 
had seen a couple of boys, strangers, meet by chance, 
and say simultaneously, "I can lick you," and go at it 
on the spot; but T had always imagined until now, 
that that sort of thing belonged to children only, and 
was a sign and mark of childhood; but here were these 
big boobies sticking to it and taking pride in it clear 
''-\~- — up into full age and beyond. Yet there 
"J^-^^^-^ was something very engaging about these 
great simple-hearted creatures, something attractive and lovable. 
There did not seem to be brains enough in the entire nurser}', so to 
speak, to bait a fish-hook with; but you didn't seem to mind that, after 

43 



44 KKfCffTS OF THE TABLF. ROUND. 

a little, because you soon saw that brains were not needed in a society 
like that, and, indeed would have marred^ it, hindered it, spoiled its 
s)nTme"tfy — perhaps rendered its existencejmpossible. 

There was a fine manliness observable in almost every face; and 
in some a certain loftiness and sweetness that rebuked your belittling 
criticisms and stilled them. A most noble benignity and purity 
reposed in the countenance of him they called Sir Galahad, and like- 
wise in the king's also; and there was majesty and greatness in the 
giant frame and high bearing of Sir Launcelot of the Lake. . - 

There was presently an incident which centred the general interest 
upon this Sir Launcelot. At a sign from a sort of master of ceremo- 
nies, six or eight of the prisoners rose and came forward in a body and 
knelt on the floor and lifted up their hands toward the ladies' gallery and 
begged the grace of a word with the queen. The most conspicuously 
situated lady in that massed flower-bed of feminine show and finery in- 
clined her head by way of assent, and then the spokesman of the prison- 
ers delivered himself and his fellow^s into her hands for free pardon, ran- 
som, captivity or death, as she in her good pleasure might elect; and 
this, as he said, he was doing by command of Sir Kay the Seneschal, 
whose prisoners they were, he having vanquished them by his single 
might and prowess in sturdy conflict in the field. 

Suprise and astonishment flashed from face to face all over the 
house; the queen's gratified smile faded out at the name of Sir Kay, 
and she looked disappointed; and the page whispered in my ear with 
an accent and manner expressive of extravagant derision — 

"Sir Kay, forsooth! Oh, call me pet names, dearest, call me a 
marine! In twice a thousand years shall the unholy invention of 
man labor at odds to beget the fellow to this majestic lie!" 

Every eye was fastened with severe inquiry upon Sir Kay. But he 
was equal to the occasion. He got up and played his hand like a 
major — and took every trick. He said he would state the case, exactly 



KNIGHTS OF THE TABLE ROUND. 45 

according to the facts; he would tell the simple straightforward tale, 
without comment of his own; "and then," said he, "if ye find glory 
and honor due, ye will give it unto him who is the mightiest man of 
his hands that ever bare shield or strake with sword in the ranks of 
Christian battle — even him that sitteth there!" and he pointed to Sir 
Launcelot. Ah, he fetched them; it was a rattling good stroke. Then 
he went on and told how Sir Launcelot, seeking adventures, some brief 
time gone by, killed seven giants at one sweep of his sword, and set 
a hundred and forty-two captive maidens free; and then went further, 
still seeking adventures, and found him (Sir Kay) fighting a desperate 
fight against nine foreign knights, and straightway took the battle 
solely into his own hands, and conquered the nine; and that night Sir 
Launcelot rose quietly, and dressed him in Sir Kay's armor and took 
Sir Kay's horse and gat him away into distant lands, and vanquished 
sixteen knights in one pitched battle and thirty-four in another; and 
all these and the former nine he made to swear that about Whitsun- 
tide they would ride to Arthur's court and yield them to Queen Guen-_ 
ever's hands as captives of Sir Kay the Seneschal, spoil of his knightly 
prowess; and now here were these half dozen, and the rest would be 
along as soon as they might be healed of their desperate wounds. 

Well, it was touching to see the queen blush and smile, and look 
embarrassed and happy, and fling furtive glances at Sir Launcelot that 
would have got him shot in Arkansas, to a dead certainty. 

Everybody praised the valor and magnanimity of Sir Launcelot; 
and as for me, I was perfectly amazed, that one man, all by himself, 
should have been able to beat down and capture such battalions 
of practiced fighters. I said as much to Clarence; but this mccking 
fcatherhead only said — 

"An Sir Kay had had time to get another skin of sour wine into 
him, ye had seen the accompt doubled." 

I looked at the boy in sorrow; and as 1 looked I saw the cloud of a 



46 



AA'/OZ/VS OF JJfK J-AJil.E ROUND. 



deep tlespciiuleiicy settle upon his countenanee. 1 followed the direc- 
tion of his e\e, and saw that a very old and white-bearded man, 
clothed in a flowing black gown, had risen and was standing at the 
table upon unsteady legs, and feebly swaying his ancient head and 
sur\e}'ing the company with his watery and wandering eye. The 
same suffering look that was in the page's face was observable in all 




"THE FLIES BUZZED AND BIT UNMOLESTED." 

the faces around — the look of dumb creatures who know that they 
must endure and make no moan. 

" Marry, we shall have it again," sighed the boy; "that same old 
weary tale that he hath told a thousand times in the same words, and 
that he tt-/// tell till he dieth, every time he hath gotten his barrel full 
and feeleth his exaggeration-mill a-working. Would God I had died 
or I saw this day!" 



KNIGHTS OF THE TABLE ROUND. 



47 



"Who is it?" 

"Merlin, the mighty liar and magician, perdition singe him for 
the weariness he worketh with his one tale! But that men fear him 
for that he hath the storms and the lightnings and all the devils that 
be in hell at his beck and call, they woidd have dug his entrails out 
these many years ago to get at that tale and squelch it. He telleth 
it always in the third person, making 
believe he is too modest too glorify 
himself^maledictions light upon him, 
misfortune be his dole! 



Good friend, prithee 
call me for evensong." 
The boy nestled 
himself upon my 
shoulder and pretend- 
ed to go to sleep. The 
old man began his 
tale; and presently the 
lad was asleep in real- 
ity; so also were the 
dogs, and the court, 
the lackeys, and the 
files of men-at-arms. " ^iR arthur took it up by the handles." 

The droning voice droned on; a soft snoring arose on all sides and 
supported it like a deep and subdued accompaniment of wind instru- 
ments. Some heads were bowed upon folded arms, some lay back 
with open mouths that issued unconscious music; the flies buzzed and 
bit, unmolested, the rats swarmed softly out from a hundred holes, and 
pattered about, and made themselves at home everywhere; and one 
of them sat up like a squirrel on the king's head and held a bit of 
cheese in its hands and nibbled it, and dribbled the crumbs in the 




48 KNIGHTS OF THE TABLE ROUND. 

king's face with naVvc and impudent irreverence. It was a tranquil 
scene, and restful to the weary eye and the jaded spirit. 

This was the old man's tale. He said: 

" Right so the king and Merlin departed, and went until an hermit 
that was a good man and a great leech. So the hermit searched all 
his wounds and gave him good salves; so the king was there three 
days, and then were his wounds well amended that he might ride and 
go, and so departed. And as they rode, Arthur said, I have no 
sword. No force,* said Merlin, hereby is a sword that shall be 
yours and I may. So they rode till they came to a lake, the which 
was a fair water and broad, and in the midst of the lake Arthur was 
ware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair sword in that 
hand. Lo, said Merlin, yonder is that sword that I spake of. 
With that they saw a damsel going upon the lake. What damsel is 
that.'' said Arthur. That is the Lady of the .lake, said Merlin; and 
within that lake is a rock, and therein is as fair a place as any on 
earth, and richly beseen, and this damsel will come to you anon, and 
then speak ye fair to her that she will give you that sword. Anon 
withal came the damsel unto Arthur and saluted him, and he her 
again. Damsel, said Arthur, what sword is that, that yonder the 
arm holdeth above the water.-* I would it were mine, for I have no 
sword. Sir Arthur King, said the damsel, that sword is mine, and 
if ye will give me a gift when I ask it you, ye shall have it. By my 
faith, said Arthur, I will give you what gift ye will ask. Well, said 
the damsel, go ye into yonder barge and row yourself to the sword, 
and take it and the scabbard with you, and I will ask my gift when I 
see my time. So Sir Arthur and Merlin alight, and tied their horses 
to two trees, and so they went into the ship, and when they came to 
the sword that the hand held, Sir Arthur took it up by the handles, 
and took it with him. And the arm and the hand went under the 

* No matter. 



KNIGHTS OF THE TABLE ROUND. 



49 



water; and so they came unto the land and rode fortli. And then Sir 
Arthur saw a rich pavilion. What signifieth yonder pavilion? It is 
the knight's pavilion, said Merlin, that }'e fought with last, Sir PelH- 
nore, but he is out, he is not there; he hath ado with a knight of 
)-ours, that hight Egglame, and they have fought together, but at the 
last Egglame fled, and else he had been dead, and he hath chased 
him even to Carlion, and we shall meet with him anon in the highway. 
That is well said, said Arthur, now have I a sword, now will I wage 
battle with him, and be avenged on him. Sir, ye shall not so, said 
Merlin, for the knight is weary of fighting and chasing, so that ye 
shall have no worship to have ado with him; also, he will not lightly 
be matched of one knight living; and therefore it is my counsel, let 
him pass, for he shall do you good service in short time, and his sons, 
after his days. Also ye shall see that day in short space ye shall be 
right glad to give him your sister to wed. When I see him, I will do 
as ye advise me, said Arthur. Then Sir Arthur looked on the sword, 
and liked it passing well. Whether liketh you better, said Merlin, 
the sword or the scabbard.' Me liketh better the sword, said 
Arthur. Ye are more unwise, said Merlin, for the scabbard is worth 
ten of the sword, for while ye have the scabbard upon you ye shall 
never lose no blood, be ye never so sore wounded; therefore, keep well 
the scabbard always with you. So they rode unto Carlion, and by 
the way they met with Sir Pellinore; but Merlin had done such a craft 
that Pellinore saw not Arthur, and he passed by without any words. 
I marvel, said Arthur, that the knight would not speak. Sir, said 
Merlin, he saw you not; for and he had seen you ye had not lightly 
departed. So they came unto Carlion, whereof his knights were pass- 
ing glad. And when they heard of his adventures they marveled that 
he would jeopard his person so alone. But all men of worship said 
it was merry to be under such a chieftain that would put his person in 
adventure as other poor knights did." 



CHAPTER IV. 

SIR DINADAN THE HUMORIST. 

T seemed to me that this quaint lie was most 
simply and beautifully told; but then 
I had heard it only once, and that 
makes a difference; it was pleasant to 
the others when it was fresh, no doubt. 
Sir Dinadan the Humorist was the first to awake, and 
he soon roused the rest with a practical joke of a suffi- 
ciently poor quality. He tied some 
metal mugs to a dog's tail and turned 
him loose, and he tore around and 
around the place in a frenzy of fright, 
with all the other dogs bellowing after 
him and battering and crashing against 
everything that came in their way and 
making altogether a chaos of confusion 
and a most deafening din and turmoil; 
at which every man and woman of the 
multitude laughed till the tears flowed, 
and some fell out of their chairs and 
wallowed on the floor in ecstasy. It 
was just like so many children. Sir 
Dinadan was so proud of his exploit 
that he could not keep from telling over and over again, to weariness, 
how the immortal idea happened to occur to him; and as is the way 
with humorists of his breed, he was still laughing at it after every- 
body else had got through. He was so set up that he conclud- 

3 53 




54 



srR nnvAD.iA' ri/F /n'M0A'/s7\ 







speech — of course a humfjrcjus speech. I tliink 
so many old phi}'ed-out jokes struni^ tot,fether 
was worse than the minstrels, worse than the 
circus. It seemed peculiarly sad to sit here, 
drcd years befc^-e I was born and listen again 
worm-eaten j(,ikes that had given me the dry 
boy thirteen hundred years afterwards, 
vinced me that there isn't any such 
new joke possible. Everybody 
these antiquities — but then they 
ticed that, centuries later. How- 
scoffer didn't laugh — I. mean the 
there wasn't any- 
at. He said the 
Dinadan's 
_ rotten and 

^ were petn- 

" petrified" 
was good; as I believed, myself, that tlie 
\ only right way to classify the majestic 
ages of some of those jokes was by geo- 
logic periods. But that neat idea hit the 

boy in a blank 
place, for geol- 
ogy hadn't 
been invented 
yet. However, 



THE PRACTICAL JOKER'S JOKE. 

I made a note of the remark, and calculated to educate the 
commonwealth up to it if I pulled through. It is no use to 



ed to m.d<e a 
I never heard 
in m)' life. 1 le 
clown in the 
thirteen hun- 
to poor, flat, 
gripes when I 
It about con- 
thing a s a 
laughed at 
always do; I ha 
ever, of course the 
boy. No, he scoffed; 
thing he wouldn't scoff 
most of Sjr 
jokes were 
the rest 
fied. I said 





S/J^ DIN AD AN THE HUMORIST. 55 

throw a good thing away merely because the market isn't ripe 

yet. _ _ ^J 

Now Sir Kay arose and began to fire up on his history-mill, with i*^^ 
me for fuel. It was time for me to feci serious, and I did. Sir Kay 
told how he had encountered me in a far land of barbarians, who all 
wore the same ridiculous garb that I did — a garb that was a work of 
enchantment, and intended to make the wearer secure from hurt by 
human hands. However, he had nullified the force of the enchant- 
ment by prayer, and had killed my thirteen knights in a three-hours' 
battle, and taken me prisoner, sparing my life in order that so strange 
a curiosity as I was might be exhibited to the wonder and admira- 
tion of the king and the court. He spoke of me all the time, in the 
blandest^ way, as "this prodigious giant," and "this horrible sky- 
towering monster," and " this tusked and taloned man-devouring 
ogre;" and everybody took in all this bosh in the naivest way, and 
never smiled or seemed to notice that there was any' discrepancy 
between these watered statistics and me. He said that in trying 
to escape from him I sprang into the top of a tree two hundred 
cubits high at a single bound, but he dislodged me with a stone 
the size of a cow, which " all-to brast " the most of my bones, and 
then swore me to appear at Arthur's court for sentence. He 
ended by condemning me to die at noon on the 21st; and was 
so little concerned about it that he stopped to yawn before he named 
the date. 

I was in a dismal state by this time; indeed, I was hardly enough 
in my right mind to keep the run of a dispute that sprung up as to 
how I had better be killed, the possibility of the killing being doubted 
by some, because of the enchantment in my clothes. And yet it was 
nothing but an ordinary suit of fifteen-dollar slop-shops. Still, I was 
sane enough to notice this detail, to-wit: many of the terms used in 
the most matter-of-fact way by this great assemblage of the first 



56 



.S7A' yU.V.I /y.t.V ■/•HE l/rMOK/ST. 



ladies and L;"cni.lcnun in the land would have 
made a Comanche blush. Indelicac)' is too mild 
a term to con\'cy the idea, llowexer, 1 had read 
"Tom J<^nes," and " Rotlerick Random," and 
other books of that kind, and knew that the 
highest and first ladies and ^^entlemen in Eng- 
land had remained little or no eleaner 
in their talk, and in the morals and 
conduct which such talk implies, clear 
up to a hundred years ago; in fact clear 
into our own nineteenth century — in 
w hich century, b r oadly speaking, th e 
earliest samples of the reaMajiv and 
real gentleman dis- 
coverable inEnghsh 
history — or in Euro- 
peaiT history, for that 
matter — may be said 
to have made their 
appearance. Suppose 
Sir Walter, instead of 
putting the conversa- 
tions into the mouths 
of his characters, had 
allowed the charac- 
ters to speak for 
themselves.'' We 
should have had talk 
from Rachel and Ivan- 
hoe and the soft lady 
Rowena which would "queengueneverwas as naively interested as the rest 




^/A" DINADAN THE HUMORIST. 



57 



embarrass a tramp in our da}-. However, to the unconsciously indeli- 
cate all things are delicate. King Arthur's people were not aware 
that they were indecent, and I had presence of mind enough not to 
mention it. 

They were so troubled about my enchanted clothes that they were 
mightily relieved, at last, when old Merlin swept the difficulty away 
for them with a common-sense hint. He asked them why they were 
so dull — why didn't it occur to them to strip me. In half a minute I 
was as naked as a pair of tongs! And dear, dear, to think of it: I 
was the only embarrassed person there. Everybody discussed me; 
and did it as unconcernedly as if I had been a cabbage. Queen 
Guenever was as naively interested as the rest, and said she had 
never seen anybody with legs just like mine before. It was the only 
compliment I got — if it was a compliment. 

Finally I was carried off in one direction, and my perilous clothes 
in another. I was shoved into a dark and narrow^ cell in a dungeon, 
wdth some scant remnants for dinner, some moldy straw for a bed, 
and no end of rats for company. 




^'^ 



J^sJ^ 



s K, i .^ q^ 



CHAPTER V. 



AN INSPIRATION. 




WAS SO tired that even my fears were 



not able to keep me awake long. 

When I next came to myself, I 
seemed to have been asleep a very 
long time. My first thought was, 
"Well, A\hat an astonishing dream 
I've had ! I reckon I've waked 
only just in time to keep from be- 
ing hanged or drowned or burned, 
or something. . . . I'll nap 
again till the whistle blows, and 
then I'll go down to the arms fac- 
tory and have it out with Hercules." 

But just then I heard the harsh 
music of rusty chains and bolts, a 
light flashed in my eyes, and that 
butterfl}', Clarence, stood before 
me ! I gasped with surprise ; my 
breath almost got away from me. 

"What!" I said, "you here 
yet.' Go along with the rest of the 
dream ! scatter ! " 

But he only laughed, in his 



light-hearted way, and fell to making fun of my sorry plight. 

"All right," I said resignedly, "let the dream go on; I'm in no 
hurry." 

6i 



62 A A IXSrjRA'J'ION. 

" Prithee what dream ? " 

" What dream ? W'h)-, the ch-eam that I am in Arthur's court — a 
person who ne\er existed; and that I am talking; to }-ou, wlio are 
nothing" but a work of the imai;ination. " 

"Oh, La, indeed! and is it a dream that )ou'rc to be burned to- 
morr(M\- ? Ho-ho — answer me that ! " 

The shock that went throui^h me was distressini^. I now began to 
reason that ni)' situation was in thi; Last degree serious, dream or no 
dream ; for I knew by past experience of the Hfe-hke intensity of 
dreams, that to be burned to death, e\-en in a dream, would be very 
far from being a jest, and was a thing to be avoided, by any means, 
fair or foul, that I could contrive. So I said beseechingl}-; 

"Ah, Clarence, good boy, onh* friend I'x-e got, — for you arc vc\\ 
Iriend, aren't you ? — don't fail me; help me to devise some way of 
escaping from this place ! " 

"Now do but hear thyself! Ivscape ? Why, man, the corridors 
are in guard and keep of men-at-arms." 

"No doubt, no doubt. But how man}-. Clarence? Not man}-, I 
hope } " 

" Full a score. One may not hope to escape." After a pause — 
hesitatingly: "and there be other reasons — and weightier." 

" Other ones } What are the}- .^ " 

" Well, they sa}- — oh, but I daren't, indeed I daren't ! " 

" Why, poor lad, what is the matter.' Wh}- do you blench } Why 
do }-ou tremble so .'' " 

" Oh, in sooth, there is need ! I do \\ant to tell }'ou, but — " 

" Come, come, be brave, be a man — speak out, there's a good lad!" 

He hesitated, pulled one wa}' b}- desire, the other way b}- fear; 
then he stole to the door and peeped out, listening; and finall}- crept 
close to me and put his mouth to my ear and told me his fearful new-s 
in a whisper, and with all the cowering apprehension of one who was 



A A' INSPJRA TION. 



venturing upon awful g^round and speaking of things whose very men- 
tion might be freighted with death. 

"MerHn, in his mah'ce, has woven a spell about this dungeon, and 
there bides not the man in these kingdoms that would be desperate 
enough to essay to cross its lines with you! Now God pitv me. I have 
told it! Ah, be kind to me, 
be merciful to a poor boy who 
means thee well; for an thou 
betray me I am lost ! " 

I laughed the only realk 
refreshing laugh I 

had had for some 

time; and shouted — 
"Merlin has 

wrought a spell! 

Merlin, forsooth! 

That cheap old 

humbug, that maun- 
dering old ass? 

Bosh, pure bosh, the 

silliest bosh in the 

world! Why, it does 

seem to me that of all 

the childish, idiotic, 

chuckle-headed, chick- " o^- beware! these are awful wordsI " 

en-livered superstitions that ev— oh, damn Merlin!" 

But Clarence had slumped to his knees before I had half finished, 

and he was like to go out of his mind with fright. 

"Oh, beware! These are awful words! Any moment these walls 

nay crumble upon us if you say such things. Oh call them back be- 

ore it is too late ! " 




64 AN INSPIRATION. 

Now this strange exhibition gave me a good idea and set me to 
thinking. If everybody about here was so honestly and sincerely 
afraid of Merlin's pretended magic as Clarence was, certainly a supe- 
rior man like me ought to be shrewd enough to contrive some way to 
take advantage of such a state of things. I went on thinking, and 
worked out a plan. Then I said: 

"Get up. Pull yourself together; look me in the eye. Do you 
know why I laughed } " 

" No — but for our blessed Lady's sake, do it no more." 

"Well, I'll tell you why I laughed. Because I'm a magician my 
self." 

" Thou ! " The boy recoiled a step, and caught his breath, for the 
thing hit him rather sudden; but the aspect which he took on was 
very, very respectful. I took quick note of that; it indicated that a 
humbug didn't need to have a reputation in this asylum; people stood 
ready to take him at his word, without that. I resumed: 

" I've known Merlin seven hundred years, and he — " 

" Seven hun — " 

" Don*t interrupt me. He has died and come alive again thirteen 
times, and traveled under a new name every time : Smith, Jones, 
Robinson, Jackson, Peters, Haskins. Merlin — a new alias every time 
he turns up. I knew him in Eg)-pt three hundred years ago; I knew 
him in India five hundred years ago — he is always blethering around 
in my way, everywhere I go; he makes me tired. He don't amount to 
shucks, as a magician; knows some of the old common tricks, but has 
never got beyond the rudiments, and never will. He is well enough 
for the provinces — one- night stands and that sort of thing, you 
know — but dear me, lie oughtn't to set up for an expert — anyway not 
where there's a real artist. Now look here, Clarence, I am going to 
stand }'our friend, right along, and in return you must be mine. I 
want you to do me a favor. I want you to get word to the king tha: 



A/V INSPIRATfON. 65 

I am a mai,n*cian m)'sclf — and the Supreme Grand High-yu-Mucka- 
nuick and head of the tribe, at that; and I want him to be made 
to understand that I am just quietly arranging a Httlc calamity 
here that will make the fur fly in these realms if Sir Kay's project 
is carried out and any harm comes to me. Will you get that to the 
king for me ? " 

The poor boy was in such a state that he could hardly answer me. 
It was pitiful to see a creature so terrified, so unnerved, so demoralized. 
But he promised everything; and on my side he made me promise 
over and over again that I would remain his friend, and never turn 
against him or cast any enchantments upon him. Then he w^orked 
his way out, staying himself with his hand along the wall, like a sick 
person. 

Presently this thought occurred to me: how heedless I have been ! 
When the boy gets calm, he will wonder why a great magician like 
me should have begged a boy like him to help me get out of this place; 
he will put this and that together, and will see that I am a humbug. 

I worried over that heedless blunder for an hour, and called myself 
a great many hard names, meantime. But finally i t occurred to me 
all of a sudden that these aji inn 1« didn't i:eason; that tJicy never put 



this an d that together: that all their talk show-ed that they did n't 
kn ow a disc repancy when they sav ^ it. ^ ^Vas ^^ '''"'^^1 ^^^ 

But as soon as one is at rest, in this world, off he goes on some- 
thing else to worry about. It occurred to me that I had made 
another blunder: I had sent the boy off to alarm his betters with a 
threat — I intending to invent a calamity at my leisure; now the 
people who are t he readiest and eagerest and willingest to s\va now 
miracles are the very ones w^ho are t1i<^ 1^^mcrrip^t tn spo yon perfortn 
th^mj.. suppose 1 should be called on tor a sample } Suppose I should 
be asked to name my calamity } Yes, I had made a blunder; I ought 
to have invented my calamity first. "What shall I do .^ what can I 



66 



AN INSPIRATION. 



say, to gain a little time?" I was in trouble again; in the deepest 
kind of trouble: . . . " There's a footstep ! — they're coming. If I had 

only just a moment to think Good, I've got it. I'm all right." 

You see, it was the eclipse. It came into my mind, in the nick of 
time, how Columbus, or Cortez, or one of those people, played an 
eclipse as a saving trump once, on some savages, and I saw my 
chance. I could play it myself, now; and it wouldn't be any plagiar- 




Hfc, WAS tRlCHltD i.\EN" TO THE MARROW. 



ism, either, because I should get it in nearly a thousand years ahead 
of those parties. 

Clarence came in, subdued, distressed, and said: 

" I hasted the message to our liege the king, and straightway he 
had me to his presence. He was frighted even to the marrow, and was 
minded to give order for your instant enlargement, and that you be 
clothed in fine raiment and lodged as befitted one so great; but then 



ajv inspiration. 67 

came Merlin and spoiled all; for he persuaded the kini;- that you are 
mad, and know not whereof you speak; and said xour threat is but 
foolishness and idle vaporin<;. They disputed long, but in the end, 
Merlin, scoffin<^, said, ' Wherefore hath he not named his brave 
calamity ? Verily it is because he cannot.' This thrust did in a most 
sudden sort close the kini^'s mouth, and he could offer nauj,dit to turn 
the argument ; and so, reluctant, and full loth to do you the dis- 
courtesy, he yet prayeth you to consider his perplexed case, as 
noting how the matter stands, and name the calamity — if so be you 
have determined the nature of it and the time of its coming. Oh, 
prithee delay not; to delay at such a time were to double and treble 
the perils that already compass thee about. Oh, be thou wise — name 
the calamity ! " 

I allowed silence to accumulate while I got my impressiveness 
together, and then said: 

" How long have I been shut up in this hole } " 

" Ye were shut up when yesterday was well spent. It is 9 of the 
morning now." 

" No ! Then I have slept well, sure enough. Nine in the morning 
now ! And yet it is the very complexion of midnight, to a shade. 
This is the 20th, then .J'" 

" The 20th — yes." 

" And I am to be burned alive to-morrow." The boy shuddered. 

*' At what hour .''" 

" At high noon." 

" Now then, I will tell you what to say." I paused, and stood 
over that cowering lad a whole minute in awful silence; then in a 
voice deep, measured, charged with doom, I began, and rose by 
dramatically graded stages to my colossal climax, which I delivered 
in as sublime and noble a way as ever I did such a thing in my life: 
** Go back and tell the king that at that hour I will smother the 



68 



AN TNSPIKATION. 



\\lu>lc world in the dcatl blackness of midnight; I will blot out the 
sun, and he shall nexx-r shine attain; the fruits of the earth shall rot 
for lack of light and warmth, and the peoples of the earth shall famish 
and die, to the last man ! " 

I hati to carry the boy out m)-self. he sunk into such a collapse. I 
handed him over to the soldiers, and went back. 




c\ 




CHAPTER VI. 

THE ECLIPSE. 

g N the stillness and the darkness, realization 

soon began to supplement knowledge. The 

mere knowledge of a fact is pale; but when 

)'OU conie to realize yowx fact ^ it takes on col or. 

It is all the difference between hearing of a 

man being stabbed to the heart, and seeing it 

doiie. In the stillness and the darkness, the 

knowledge that I was in deadly danger took 

to itself deeper and deeper meaning all the 

tunc; a something which was realization 

crept inch by inch through my veins and 

turned me cold. 

13ut it is a blessed provision of nature 
that at times like these, as soon as a 
man's mercury has got down to a cer- 
tain point there comes a revulsion, 
and he rallies. Hope springs up, and 
cheerfulness along with it, and then 
he is in good shape to do something 
for himself, if anything can be done. 
When my rally came, it came with 
a bound. I said to myself that my 
eclipse would be sure to save me, and make me the greatest man in 
the kingdom besides; and straightway my mercury went up to the 




72 



THE ECLIPSE. 



top of the tube, and my solicitutlcs all vanished. I was as happy a 
man as there was in the world. I was even impatient for to-morrow 
to come, 1 so wanted to gather-in that great triumph and be the cen- 
tre of all the nation's wonder and reverence. Besides, in a business 
way it would be the making of me; I knew that. 

Meantime there was one thing which had got pushed into the 
background of my mind. That was the half-conviction that when the 
nature of my proposed calamity should be reported to those supersti- 
tious people, it would have such an effect that they would M^ant to 
compromise. So, by and by when I heard footsteps coming, that 
thought was recalled to me, and I said to myself, "As sure as any- 
thing, it's the compromise. Well, if it is good, all right, I will accept; 
but if it isn't, I mean to stand my ground and play my hand for all it 
is worth." 

The door opened, and some men-at-arms appeared. The leader 
said — 

" The stake is ready. Come! " 

The stake! The strength went out of me, and I almost fell down. 
It is hard to get one's breath at such a time, such lumps come into 
one's throat, and such gaspings; but as soon as I could speak, I said: 

" But this is a mistake — the execution is to-morrow." 

"Order changed; been set forward a day. Haste thee! " 

I was lost. There was no help for me. I was dazed, stupefied; I 
had no command over myself; I only wandered purposelessly about, 
like one out of his mind; so the soldiers took hold of me, and pulled me 
along with them, out of the cell and along the maze of underground 
corridors, and finally into the fierce glare of daylight and the upper 
world. As we stepped into the vast inclosed court of the castle I got 
a shock; for the first thing I saw was the stake, standing in the centre, 
and near it the piled fagots and a monk. On all four sides of the 
court the seated multitudes rose rank above rank, forming sloping ter- 



THE ECLIPSE. 



n 



races tliat were ricli witli color. The kini^ and the queen sat in their 
thrones, the most conspicuous figures there, of course. 

To note all this, occupied but a second. The next second Clar- 
ence had slipped from some place of concealment and was pouring 
news into my ear, his eyes beaming with triumph and gladness. He 
said: 

" 'Tis through uic the change was wrought! And main hard have I 
worked to do it, too. But when I revealed to them the calamity in store, 
and saw how mighty was the terror it did engender, then saw I also 
that this was the time to strike! Wherefore I diligently pretended, 
unto this and that and the other one, that your power against the sun 
could not reach its full until the morrow; and so if any would 
save the sun and the world, you must be slain to-day, whilst your 
enchantments are but in the weaving and lack potency. Odsbodi- 
kins, it was but a dull lie, a most indifferent invention, but you 
should have seen them seize it and swallow it, in the frenzy of their 
fright, as it were salvation sent from heaven; and all the while was I 
laughing in my sleeve the one moment, to see them so cheaply deceived, 
and glorifying God the next, that He was content to let the meanest 
of His creatures be His instrument to the saving of thy life. Ah, how 
happy has the matter sped! You will not need to do the sun a real 
hurt — ah, forget not that, on your soul forget it not! Only make a 
little darkness — only the littlest little darkness, mind, and cease with 
that. It will be sufficient. They will see that I spoke falsely, — being 
ignorant, as they will fancy — and with the falling of the first shadow 
of that darkness you shall see them go mad with fear; and they will 
set you free and make you great! Go to thy triumph, now! But remem- 
ber — ah, good friend, I implore thee remember my supplication, and 
do the blessed sun no hurt. For my sake, thy true friend." 

I choked out some words through my grief and misery; as much as 
to say I would spare the sun; for which the lad's eyes paid me back 



74 



THE ECLIPSE. 



with such deep and loving gratitude tliat I had not the heart to tell him 
his good-hearted fooHshness had ruined me and seat me to my death. 

As the soldiers assisted me across the court 
the stillness was so profound that if I had been 



blindfold I should have sup 



>f. 




posed I was in a soli- 
tude instead of walled 
in by four thousand people. 
There was not a movement 
perceptible in those masses^ 
of hjjmanit^' ; they were as 
rigid as stone imageSj and 
as pale; arid drea<lsatupon 
every coivntenance. This 
hush continu- 
ed while I was 



IT WAS A NOBLE EFFECT. 



being chained to the stake; it still continued while the fagots were 
carefully and tediously piled about my ankles, my knees, my thighs, 



THE ECLIPSE. 



75 



my body. Then there was a pause, and a deeper hush, if possible, 
and a man knelt down at my feet witli a blazing torch; the multitude 
strained forward, gazing, and i)arti ng slightly from their seats with- 
out knowing it; the monk raised his hands above my head, and his 
eyes toward the blue sky, and began some words in Latin; in this 
attitude he droned on and on, a little while, and then stopped. I 
waited two or three moments: then looked up; he was standing there 
petrified. With a common impulse the multitude rose slowly up and 
stared into the sky. I followed their eyes; as sure as guns, there was 
my eclipse beginning! The life went boiling through my veins; I was 
a new man! The rim of black spread slowly into the sun's disk, my 
heart beat higher and higher, and still the assemblage and the priest 
stared into the sky, motionless. I knew that this gaze would be 
turned upon me, next. When it was, I was ready. I was in one of 
the most grand attitudes I ever struck, with my arm stretched up 
pointing to the sun. It was a noble effectr— Vou could sec the shudder 
sw^eep the mass like a wave. Two shouts rang out, one close upon 
the heels of the other: 

" Apply the torch! "_ 

" I forbid it! " 

The one was from Merlin, the other from the king. Merlin start- 
ed from his place — to apply the torch himself, I judged. I said: 

" Stay where you are. If any man moves — even the king — before 
I give him leave, I will blast him with thunder, I will consume him 
with lightnings! " 

The multitude sank meekly into their seats, and I was just expect- 
ing they would. Merlin hesitated a moment or two, and I was on pins 
and needles during that little while. Then he sat down, and I took a 
good breath; for I knew I was master of the situation now. The king 
said: 

" Be merciful, fair sir, and essay no further in this perilous matter, 



76 THE ECLIPSE. 

lest disaster follow. It was reported to us that your powers could not 
attain unto their full strength until the morrow; but — 

" Your Majesty thinks the report may have been a lie ? It zvas 
a lie." 

That made an immense effect; up went appealing hands every- 
where, and the king w'as assailed with a storm of supplications that I 
might be bought off at any price, and the calamity stayed. The king 
was eager to comply. He said: 

" Name any terms, reverend sir, even to the halving of my kingdom; 
but banish this calamity, spare the sun! 

My fortune was made. I would have taken him up in a minute, but 
/ couldn't stop an eclipse; the thing was out of the question. So I 
asked time to consider. The king said — 

"How long — ah, how long, good sir.-^ Be merciful; look, it grow- 
eth darker, moment by moment. Prithee ho^v long.''" 

" Not long. Half an hour — maybe an hour." 

There were a thousand pathetic protests, but I couldn't shorten up 
any, for I couldn't remember how long a total eclipse lasts. I was in 
a puzzled condition, anyway, and wanted to think. Something was 
wrong about that eclipse, and the fact was very unsettling. If this 
wasn't the one I was after, how was I to tell whether this was the 
sixth century, or nothing but a dream. ^ Dear me, if I could only 
prove it was the latter! Here w^as a glad new hope. If the boy was 
right about the date, and this was surely the 20th, it %vasnt the sixth 
century. I reached for the monk's sleeve, in considerable excitement, 
aod asked him what day of the month it was. 

Hang him, he said it was the tivcnty -first! It made me turn cold 
to hear him. I begged him not to make any mistake about it; but 
he was sure; he knew it was the 2ist. So, that feather-headed boy 
had botched things again! The time of the day was right for the 
eclipse; I had seen that for myself, in the beginning, by the dial that 



THE ECLIPSE. 77 

was near by. Yes, I was in King Arthur's court, and I might as well 
make the most out of it I could. 

The darkness was steadily growing, the people becoming more 
and more distressed. I now said: 

" I have reflected, Sir King. For a lesson, I will let this darkness 
proceed, and spread night in the world; but whether I blot out the 
sun for good, or restore it, shall rest with you. These are the terms, 
to wit: You shall remain king over all your dominions, and receive 
all the glories and honors that belong to the kingship; but you shall 
appoint me your perpetual minister and executive, and give me for 
my services one per cent of such actual increase of revenue over and 
above its present amount as I may succeed in creating for the state. 
If I can't live on that, I sha'n't ask anybody to give me a lift. Is it 
satisfactory .''" 

There was a prodigious roar of applause, and out of the midst of it 
the king's voice rose, saying: 

" Away with his bonds, and set him free ! and do him homage, 
high and low, rich and poor, for he is become the king's right hand, 
is clothed with power and authority, and his seat is upon the highest 
step of the throne! Now sweep away this creeping night, and bring 
the light and cheer again, that all the world may bless thee." 

But I said: 

" That a common man should be shamed before the world, is noth- 
ing; but it were dishonor to the ki)ig if any that saw his minister 
naked should not also see him delivered from his shame. If I might 
ask that my clothes be brought again — " 

"They are not meet," the king broke in. "Fetch raiment of 
another sort; clothe him like a prince! " 

My idea worked. I wanted to keep things as they were till the 
eclipse was total, otherwise they would be trying again to get me to 
dismiss the darkness, and of course I couldn't do it. Sending for the 



78 



THE ECLIPSE. 



clothes gained some clela\-, but not enough. So I liad to make 
another excuse. I said it would be but natural if the king should 
change his mind and repent to some extent of what he had done 
under excitement; therefore I would let the darkness grow a while, 
and if at the end of a reasonable time the king had kept his mind the 
same, the darkness should be dismissed. Neither the king nor any- 



body else was satisfied 
ment, but I had to stick 
It grew darker and 
and blacker, while I 
awkward sixth-century 
be pitch dark, at last, 
groaned with horror to 



with that arrange- 
to my point, 
darker and blacker 
struggled with those 
clothes. It got to 
and the multitude 
feel the cold uncan- 




" SMOTHERED WITH BLESSINGS." 



ny night breezes fan through the place and see the stars come out 
and twinkle in the sky. At last the eclipse was total, and I was 
very glad of it, but everybody else was in misery; which was quite 
natural. I said: 

"The king, by his silence, still stands to the terms." Then I 
lifted up my hands — stood just so a moment — then I said, with the 



THE ECLIPSE. 



79 



most awful solemnity: "Let the enchantment dissolve and pass 
harmless away ! " 

There was no response, for a moment, in that deep darkness and 
that graveyard hush. But when the silver rim of the sun pushed 
itself out, a moment or two later, the assemblage broke loose with a 
vast shout and came pouring down like a deluge to smother me with 
blessings and gratitude; and Clarence was not the last of the wash, 
be sure. 



A> 




^Ji 




t 



CHAPTER VII. 




MERLIN S TOWER. 

NASMUCH as I was now the second person- 
age in the Kingdom, as far as political power 
and authority were concerned, much was 
made of me. My raiment was of silks and 
velvets and cloth of gold, and by conse- 
quence was very showy, also uncomfortable. 
But habit would soon reconcile me to my 
clothes ; I was aware of that. I was given 
the choicest suite of apartments in the cas- 
tle, after the king's. They were aglow with 
loud-colored silken hangings, but the stone 
floors had nothing but rushes on them for a 
carpet, and they were misfit rushes at that, 
being not all of one breed. As for conven- 
iences, properly speaking, there weren't any. 
I mean /lU/c conveniences; it is the little 



conveniences that make the reaf cornfbrt of 



life. The big oaken chairs, graced with rude 
carvings, were well enough, but that was the 
stopping-place. There was no soap, no 
matches, no looking-glass — except a metal 
one, about as powerful as a pail of water. And not a chromo. I 
had been used to chromos for years, and I saw now that without my 

suspecting it a passion for art had got worked into the fabric of my 

83 



84 



MERLIN'S TOWER. 



being, and was become a part of mc. It made me homesick to look 
around over this proud and gaudy but lieartless barrenness and remem- 
ber that in our house in East Hartford, all unpretending as it was, you 




".^_T- ' " THERE WAS NO SOAP, NO MATCHES, 
NO LOOKING-GLASS." 



couldn't go into a room but you would find an insurance-chromo, or at 
least a three-color God-Bless-Our-Home over the door ; and in the 
parlor we had nine. But here, even in my grand room of state, there 



A/F.N/.LV'S TOWER. 85 

wasn't anything in the nature of a picture except a tiling the size of a 
bed-quilt, which was either woven or knitted, (it had darned places in 
it,) and nothing in it was the right color or the right shape; and as 
for proportions, e\'en Raphael himself couldn't have botched them 
more formidabl)-, after all his practice on those nightmares they call 
his " celebrated Hampton Court cartoons." Raphael was a bird. We 
had several of his chromos; one was his " Miraculous Draught of 
Fishes," where he puts in a miracle of his own — puts three men into 
a canoe which wouldn't have held a dog without upsetting. I always 
admired to study R.'s art, it was so fresh and unconventional. 

There wasn't even a bell or a speaking-tube in the castle. I had a 
great many servants, and those that were on duty lolled in the ante- 
room; and when I wanted one of them I had to go and call for him. 
There was no gas, there were no candles; a bronze dish half full of 
boarding-house butter with a blazing rag floating in it was the thing 
that produced what was regarded as light. A lot of these hung along 
the walls and modified the dark, just toned it down enough to make 
it dismal. If you went out at night, your servants carried torches. 
There were no books, pens, paper, or ink, and no glass in the openings 
they believed to be windows. It is a little thing — glass is — until it is 
! absent, then it becomes a big thing. But perhaps the worst of all was, 
! that there wasn't any sugar, coffee, tea or tobacco. I saw that I was 
just another Robinson Crusoe cast away on a n uninhabited island, w ith 
no society bu t some more or less tame animals, and if I wanted to 
make life bearable I must do as he did — invent, c ontrive, create, reo r- 
ganize things; set brain and hand to work, and keep them busy. 
Well, that was in my line. 

One thing troubled me along at first — the immense interest which 
people took in me. Apparentl}' the whole nation wanted a look at 
I me. It soon transpired that the eclipse had scared the British world 
almost to death: that while it lasted the whole countr}', from one end 



86 



MEKLIX'S TOWER. 



to the other, was in a pitiable state of panic, and the churches, her- 
mitages, antl nionkerics overflowed with prayinc^ and weeping poor 
creatures who thought the end of the world was come. Then had 
followed the news that the producer of this awful event was a stranger, 
a mighty magician at Artluir's court; that he could have blown out 
the sun like a candle, and was just going to do it when his mercy was 
purchased, and he then dissolved his enchantments, and was now 
recognized and honored as the man who had by his unaided might 

saved the globe from destruction and its peo- 
'^'^ , pies from extinction. Now if you consider 
lat ever}'body believed that, and 
lot only believed it but never even 
dreamed of doubting it, you 
Avill easily understand that-* 
there was not a person in all 
Britain that would not have 
Awalked fifty miles to 
get a sight of me. Of 
course I was all the 
talk — all other sub- 
jects were dropped ; 
even the king be- 
came suddenly a per- 
son of minor interest and notoriet}'. \\'ithin twent}--four hours the 
delegations began to arri\'e, and from that time onward for a fortnight 
they kept coming. The village was crowded, and all the countryside. 
I had to go out a dozen times a day and show myself to these reverent 
and awe-stricken multitudes. It came to be a great burden, as to 
time and trouble, but of course it was at the same time compensat- 
ingly agreeable to be so celebrated and such a centre of homage. It 
turned Brer Merlin green with envy and spite, which was a great satis- 




THF. REVERENT .\.ND AWE-STRICKEN MULTITUDES. 



MEKI.IX'S TOWER. 87 

faction to me. But there was one thing I couldn't understand; nobody 
had asked for an autograph. I spoke to Clarence about it. By George, 
I had to explain to him what it was. Then he said nobody in the 

<:ountry could read or write but a few dozen priests. Land! think 
of that. 

There was another thing that troubkd me a little. Those multi- 
tudes presently began to agitate for another miracle. That was nat- 
ural. To be able to carry back to their far homes the boast that they 
had seen the man who could command the sun, riding in the 
heavens, and be obeyed, would make them great in the eyes of their 
neighbors, and envied by them all; but to be able to also say 
they had seen him work a miracle themselves — why, people would 
come a distance to see them. The pressure got to be pretty strong. 
There was going to be an eclipse of the moon, and I knew the date 
and hour, but it was too far away. Two years. I would have given 
a good deal for license to hurry it up and use it now when there was 
a big market for it. It seemed a great pity to have it wasted, so, and 
come lagging along at a time when a body wouldn't have any use for 
it as like as not. If it had been booked for only a month away, I 

"could have sold it short; but as matters stood, I couldn't seem to 
cipher out any way to make it do me any good, so I gave up trying. 
Next, Clarence found that old Merlin was making himself busy on the 
sly among those people. He was spreading a report that I was a 
humbug, and that the reason I didn't accommodate the people with a 
miracle was because I couldn't. I saw that I must do something. I 
presently thought out a plan. 

By my authority as executive I threw Merlin into prison — the same 
cell I had occupied myself. Then I gave public notice by herald and 
trumpet that I should be busy with affairs of state for a fortnight, but 
about the end of that time I would take a moment's leisure and blow 
up Merlin's stone tower by fires from heaven; in the meantime, whoso 



88 MEKLLV'S TOWER. 

listened to e\'il reports about me, let him bcAvarc. Furthermore, I 
would perform but this one miraele at this time, and no more; if it 
failed to satisfy and any murmured, I would turn the murmurers into 
horses, and make them useful. Quiet ensued. 

I took Clarence into my confidence, to a certain degree, and we 
went to work privately. I told him that this was a sort of miracle that 
required a trifle of preparation; and that it would be sudden death to 
ever talk about these preparations to anybody. That made his mouth 
safe enough. Clandestinely we made a few bushels of first-rate blast- 
ing-powder, and I superintended my armorers \\hile they constructed 
a lightning rod and some wires. This old stone tower was very mas- 
sive — and rather ruinous, too, for it was Roman, and four hundred years 
old. Yes, and handsome, after a rude fashion, and clothed with ivy 
from base to summit, as with a shirt of scale mail. It stood on a lonely 
eminence, in good view from the castle, and about half a mile away. 

Working by night, we stowed the powder in the tower — dug stones 
out, on the inside, and buried the powder in the walls themselves, 
which w^ere fifteen feet thick at the base. We put in a peck at a time, 
in a dozen places. We could have blown up the Tower of London with 
these charges. When the thirteenth night was come we put up our 
lightning rod, bedded it in one of the batches of powder, and ran wires 
from it to the other batches. Everybody had shunned that locality 
fr«m the day of my proclamation, but on the morning of the fourteenth 
I thought best to warn the people, through the heralds, to keep clear 
away — a quarter of a mile away. Then added, by command, that at 
some time during the twenty-four hours I would consummate the 
miracle, but would first give a brief notice ; by flags on the castle 
towers, if in the day-time, b)- torch-baskets in the same places if at 
night. 

Thunder-showers had been tolerably frequent, of late, and I was 
not much afraid of a failure; still, I shouldn't have cared for a delay 



MEK/J.Y'S 'JOWER. 89 

of ;i da}- or two; I sliouUl liavc oxplaincd that I was busy with affairs 
of state, }'ct, and the people must wait. 

Of course we had a blazini,^ sunny day — ahnost the first one without 
a cloud for three weeks; thini^s always happen so. I kept secluded, 
and watched the weather. Clarence dropped in from time to time and 
said the public excitement was- growing and growing" all the time, and 
the whole country filling up with human masses as far as one could 
see from the battlements. Xx. last the wind sprang up and a cloud 
appeared — in the right quarter, too, and just at nightfall, l^'or a little 
while I watched that distant cloud spread and blacken, then I judged 
it was time for me to appear. I ordered the torch-baskets to be lit, 
and Merlin liberated and sent to me. A quarter of an hour later I 
ascended the parapet and there found the king and the court assem- 
bled and gazing off in the darkness toward Merlin's tower. Already 
the darkness was so heavy that one could not see far; these people, 
and the old turrets, being partly in deep shadow and partly in the red 
glow from the great torch-baskets overhead, made a good deal of a 
picture. 

Merlin arrived in a gloomy mood. I said : 

" You wanted to burn me alive when I had not done you any harm, 
and latterly you have been trying to injure my professional reputation. 
Therefore I am going to call down fire and blow^ up your tower, but 
it is only fair to give you a chance; now if you think you can break 
my enchantments and ward off the fires, step to the bat, it's your 
innings." 

" I can, fair sir, and I will. Doubt it not." 

He drew an imaginary circle on the stones of the roof, and burnt a 
pinch of powder in it which sent up a small cloud of aromatic smoke, 
whereat everybody fell back, and began to cross themselves and get 
uncomfortable. Then he began to mutter and make passes in the air 
with his hands. He worked himself up slowly and gradually into a 



90 



iMEK LIAR'S TO WRK. 



sort (iffrcii/.^'.and 

arouiul with his 

of a wimhnill. By 

storm IkuI about 

gusts of win tl 

torches and mak- 

swash about, the 

of rain were falling, ^«. - \ » 

was black as pitch, the 

lightning began to 

wink fitfullv Of course 




I 



r ' 



got to thrashing 
arms like the sails 
this time t h e 
reached us ; the 
i were flaring the 
; ing the shadows 
^ first heavy drops 
the world abroad 




my rod would he ^^p 
loading itself now ^S 
In fact, things were 
imminent. So I '^-^ 
said : "" * 

"You have had time enough. I 
have given )'ou ever)' ad\antage, 
and not interfered. It is plain your 
magic is weak. It is only fair that I 
begin now-." 

I made about three passes in the 
air, and then there was an awful crash and that old tower leaped 
into the sky in chunks, along with a vast volcanic fountain of fire that 



THAI- OLD TOWER LEAPED INTO THE 
SKV IN CHUNKS." 



MERLIN'S TOWER. 9I 

turned night to noonday, and showed a thousand acres of human 
beings groveling on the ground in a general collapse of consternation. 
Well, it rained mortar and masonry the rest of the week. This was the 
report; but probably the facts would have modified it. 

It was an effective miracle. The great bothersome temporary 
population vanished. There were a good many thousand tracks in the 
mud the next morning, but they were all outward bound. If I had 
advertised another miracle I couldn't have raised an audience with a 
sheriff. 

Merlin's stock was flat. The king wanted to stop his wages; he 
even wanted to banish him, but I interfered. I said he would be use- 
ful to work the weather, and attend to small matters like that, and I 
would give him a lift now and then when his poor little parlor-magic 
soured on him. There wasn't a rag of his tower left, but I had the 
government rebuild it for him, and advised him to take boarders; but 
he was too high-toned for that. And as for being grateful, he never 
even said thank-you. He was a rather hard lot, take him how you 
might; but then you couldn't fairly expect a man to be sweet that had 
been set back so. 




(K- 



(a" 



CHAPTER VIII. 



tup: boss. 

lO be vested with enormous author- 
ity is a fine thing; but to have 
the on-looking world consent to 
it is a finer. The tower episode 
solidified my power, and made it 
impregnable. If any were per- 
chance disposed to be jealous and crit- 
ical before that, they experienced a 
change of heart, now. There ^\•as not 
any one in the kingdom who would have 
considered it good judgment to meddle 
with my matters. 

I was fast getting adjusted to my situa- 
tion and circumstances. For a time, I used 
to wake up, mornings, and smile at my 
"dream," and listen for the Colt's factory 
whistle; but that sort of thing played itself 
out, gradually, and at last I was full)' able 
to realize that I was actually living 
in the sixth century, and in Arthur's 
■■7 court, not a lunatic asylum. After 
that, I was just as much at home in 
that century as I could have been in any other; and as for preference, 
I wouldn't have traded it for the twentieth. L ook at the op portuni- 

95 




96 



THE BOSS. 



tics here for a man df kno wlcdg c^-)rains. pluck and enterprise to sail 
in ajiiJf^rmvTip with thccountr)-. The grandest field that ever was; 



and all niy^owiTT not a competitor; not a man who wasn't a baby to 
nu; in ac(juirements and capacities; whereas, what would I amount to 
in the twentieth century? 1 should be foreman of a factory, that is 
about all; and could drag a seine down-street an)' day and catch a 
hundred better men than myself. 

What a jump I had made ! I couldn't keep from thinking about 
it, and contemplating it, just as one does who has struck oil. There 
was nothing__back of me that coul d approach_ jL_unl£5s_TLJlLight be 
Josep h's case: and Joseph 's o nly approa^ hed^itr-i^-didn't equal it, 
quite. For it stands to reason that as Joseph's splendid financial in- 
genuities advantaged nobody but the king, the general public must 
have regarded him with a good deal of disfavor, whereas I had done 
my entire public a kindness in sparing the sun, and was popular by 
reason of it. 

I was no shadow of a king; I was the substance; the king himself 
was the shadow. My power was colossal; and it was not a mere 
name, as such things have generally been, it was the genuine article. 
I stood here, at the very spring and source of the second great period 
of the world's history; and could see the trickling stream of that his- 
tory gather, and deepen and broaden, and roll its mighty tides down 
the far centuries; and I could note the upspringing of adventurers 
like myself in the shelter of its long array of thrones: De Montforts, 
Gavestons, Mortimers, Villierses; the war-making, campaign-direct- 
ing wantons of France, and Charles the Second's sceptre - wielding 
drabs; but nowhere in the procession was my full-si^d fellow visible. 
I was a Unique; and glad to know that that fact could n ot be di s- 
lodged or challenged for thirteen centuries and a half, for sure. 

Yes, m power I was equal to the~Tang! At the same timeTliere 
was another power that was a trifle stronger than both of us put 



THE BOSS. 



97 



together. That was the Church. I do not wish to disguise that fact. 

I couldn't, if I wanted to. Rut never mind about that, now ; it will 

show up, in its proper place, later on. It didn't cause me any trouble 

in the beginning — at least any of consequence. 

Well, it was a curious country, and full of interest. And the 

people! They__weretlie 

quaintest and simplest and 

trustingest race; why, they 

were n othing but rabbits. 

It was pitiful for a person 

born in a wholesome free 

atmosphere to listen to 

their humble and hearty 

outpourings of loyalt}' 

toward their kin<i and 

Church and 

nobility; as 

if they had 
I anymore 
! occasion to 

' o V e and 

WHY, IlIEY WERE NOTHING BUT R.\UBrr,S. 

honor king and Church and noble 
than a slave has to love and honor 
the lash, or a dog has to love and honor the stranger that kicks him ! 
Why, dear me, am' kind of ro yalty, howsoever modified, any kind^ of 
aristocracy, howsoever pruned, is rightly an insult; but if you are born 
and brought up"under that sort oi arrangement }'ou probably never 
find it out f^r yourself, and don't believe it wneiisoniebody else tells 



you. Iti?r enouLlh ITT make a bodv^ ashamed of his race to think of 




98 



THE BOSS. 



t lie sort of frni-h tl lPt jl-i'^ n]\va^ s occupied its thrones without sh a d o w 
of ng^htj]j:L_reason, and the seventh-rate people t hat haA ^c_ahvays fig- 
ured as its aristocracies — a compan}' of monarchs and nobles who, as 
a rule, would have achiexed onl}- poxerty and obscurity if left, like 
their betters, to their own exertions. 

The most of King Arthur 's l^ritish nation were slaves, pure and 
simple, and bore that name, and wore the iron coll ar on their n ecks; 
ancrTHc~re st^were slave s in tact , but wiThout tl ie_ name;_ tli£^imagined 
themsehes men and_ freem en, an d called themselves so. The truth 
was, the nation as a bod}' was in the world for one object, and one 
onl}-: to grovel before king and Church and noble; to slave for them, 
sweat blood for them, starve that the}' might be fed, work that they 
might play, drink miser}' to the dregs that they might be happy, go 
naked that they might wear silks and jewels, pay taxes that they might 
be spared from paying them, be familiar all their lives with the degrad- 
ing language and postures of adulation that the}' might xxalk in pride 
and think themselves the gods of this world. ^\nd for all this, the 
thanks they got were cuffs and contempt; and so poor-spirited were 
they that the}' took even this sort of attention as an honor. 

Inherited ideas are a curious thing, and interesting to observe and 
examine. I had mine, the king and his people had theirs. In both 
cases they flowed in ruts worn deep by time and habit, and the man 
who should have proposed to divert them by reason and argument 
would have had a long contract on his hands. For instance, those 
people had inherited the idea that all men without title and a long 
pedigree, whether they had great natural gifts and acquirements or 
hadn't, were creatures of no more consideration thai\ so many animals, 
bugs, insects; whereas I had inherited the idea that human daws who 
can consent to masquerade in the peacock-shams of inherited digni- 
ties and unearned titles, are of no good but to be laughed at. The 
\va}' I was looked upon was odd, but it was natural. You know how 




(\ 



"INHERITED IDEAS ARE A CURIOUS THING." 



lOO THE BOSS. 

the keeper and the public rcji^ard the elephant in the menagerie: 
well, that is the idea. They arc full of admiration of his vast bulk and 
his prodigious strength; they speak with pride of the fact that he can 
do a hundred mar\els which are far and away be)'ond their own 
powers; and they speak with the same pride of the fact that in his 
wrath he is able to drive a thousand men before him. But does that 
make him one oi tJicin ? No; the raggedest tramp in the pit w^ould 
smile at the idea. He couldn't comprehend it; couldn't take it in; 
couldn't in an)- remote wa}' conceive of it. Well, to the king, the 
nobles, and all the nation, down to the very sla\es and tramps, I was 
just that kind of an elephant, and nothing more. I was admired, also 
feared; but it was as an animal is admired and fcared. The animal is 
not reverenced, n either Avas I; I was not even respected. I had no 
pedigree, no i nherited title :. _ ■^q in tlio kin g's 7\w(\ nnh]p^' pyc t; i 
was mere dirt; th e people regarded m e \vit h wonder and aw e, but 
ther^ was no reverence mixed w ith-it; through the force of inherited 
ideas they were not able to conceive of anything being entitled to that 
except pedigree and lordship. There you see the hand of that awful 
power, the Roman Catholic Church. In two or three little centuries 
it had converted a nation of men to a nation of worms. Before the 
day of the Church's supremacy in the w'orld, men were men, and held 
their heads up, and had a man's pride and spirit and independence; 
and what of greatness and position a person got, he got mainly by 
achievement, not by birth. But then the Church came to the front, 
with an axe to grind; and she was wise, subtle, and knew more than 
one way to skin a cat — or a nation; she invented "divine right of 
kings," and propped it all around, brick by brick, with the Beatitudes 
• — wrenching them from their good purpose to make them fortify an 
evil one ; she preached (lo the commoner,) humilit}', obedience to 
superiors, the beauty of self-sacrifice; she preached (to the commoner,) 
meekness under insult ; preached (still to the commoner, always to 



THE ROSS. 



lOI 



the commoner,) patience, meanness of spirit, non-resistance under 
oppression ; and she introckiced heritable ranks and aristocj-acies, and 
taught all the Christian populations of the earth to bow dc^n to them 
and worship them. Even down to my birth-century that, ^ison was 
still in the blood 
of Christendom, 
and the best of 
English common- 
ers was still con- 
tent to see his in- 
feriors impudently 
continuing to hold 
a number of posi- 
tions, such as lord- 
ships and the 
throne, to which 
the grotesque laws 
of his country did 
not allow him to 
aspire; in fact he was not 
merely contented with this 
strange condition of things, he was 





there isn't anything you can 't stan H", if you are 
only b orn and bred \c it. Of course that taint, that reverence for 
rank and title, had been in our American blood, too — I know that ; 
but when I left America it had disappeared — at least to all intents and 
purposes. The remnant of it was restricted to the dudes and dudesses. 
When a disease has worked its way down to that level, it may fairly 
be said to be out of the system. 



I02 



THE BOSS. 



But to return to my anomalous position in King Arthur's kingdom. 
Here I was, a giant among pigmies, a man among children, a master 
intelligence among intellectual moles : by all rational measurement 
the one and only actually great man in that whole British world ; and 
yet there and then, just as in the remote England of my birth-time, 
the sheep- witted earl who could claim long descent from a king's 
Icman, acquired at second-hand from the slums of London, was a 
better man than I was. Such a personage was fawned upon in Arthur's 

realm and reverently 
looked up to by every- 
body, even though his 
dispositions were as 
mean as his intelli- 
gence, and his morals 
as base as his lineage. 
There were times when 
he could sit down in the 
\(f king's presence, but I couldn't. 
I could have got a title easily— 
would have raised me a large step 
even in the king's, the giver of 
for it ; and I declined it when it was 
have enjoyed such a thing with my no- 
tions ; and it wouldn't have been fair, anyway, because as far back 
as I could go, our tribe had always been short of the bar sinister. I 
couldn't have felt really and satisfactorily fine an d proud an d set-up 
o yer a nytitTF exce pt onethat should come from the nation itself , the 
only le giti rnat e sou rce; and such an one I hoped to win; and in the 
course of years of honest and honorable endeavor, I did win it and did — - 
wear it with a high and clean pride. This title fell casually from the 
lips of a blacksmith, one day, in a village, was caught up as a happy 




enough, and that 
in everybody's eyes ; 
it. But I didn't ask 
offered. I couldn't 



THE BOSS. 103 

thoui^lit and tossed from mouth to mouth with a laugh and an affirm- 
ative vote; in ten days it had swept the kingdom, and was become as 
familiar as the king's name. I was never known by any other desig- 
nation afterwards, whether in the nation's talk or in grave debate upon 
matters of state at the council-board of the sovereign. This title, 
translated into modern speech, would be THE BOS.s. Elected by the 
nation. That suited me. And it was a pretty high title. There were 
very few THE's, and I was one of them. If you spoke of the duke, or 
the earl, or the bishop, how could anybody tell which one you meant.'' 
But if you spoke of The King or The Queen or The Boss, it was 
different. 

Well, I liked the king, and as king I respected him — respected 
the office; at least respected it as much as I was capable of respect- 
ing any unearned supremacy; but as men I looked down upon him and 
his nobles — privately. And he and they liked me, and respected my 
office; but as an animal, without birth or sham title, they looked 
down upon me — and were not particularly private about it, either. I 
didn't charge for my opinion about them, and they didn't charge for 
their opinion about me: the account was square, the books balanced, 
everybody was satisfied. 



\ 



A 



CHAPTER IX. 




THE TOURNAMENT. 

HEY were always having grand tour- 
naments there at Camelot ; and very 
stirring and picturesque and ridicu- 
lous human bull-fights they were, 
too, but just a little wearisome 
to the practical mind. However, 
I was generally on hand — for two reasons: a 
nian_nvu st not ho ld himself aloof from the things 
which his friends and his community have at 
hear t if he would be liked — especially as 
a statesman ; and both as business man 



and statesman I wanted to study the 
tournament and see if I couldn't inven t 
an improv ement on it. That reminds 
me to remark, in passing, that the very 
first official thing I did, in my adminis- 
tration — and it was on the very first day 
|\ o f it, too — was to start a patent offic e ; 
'5^, for I knew that a country without a 
patent office and good patent laws 
was just a crab, and couldn't trav;el 
any w ay but sideways or back - 

.. wards . 

Things ran along, a tourna- 
ment nearly every week ; and now and then the boys used to want 

me to take a hand — I mean Sir Launcelot and the rest — but I said 1 

107 



io8 



THE TOUKNAMENT. 



uoukl 1)\- and by ; no hurry yet, .uul too nuich t^^ovcrnment macliincry 
to oil uj) aiul set to rights and start a-going. 

W'c had one tournament which was continued from day to day 
during more than a week, and as many as five hundred knights took 
part in it, from first to last. They were weeks gathering. They came 
on horseback from everywhere ; from the very ends of the country, 
and even from beyond the sea ; and many brought ladies and all 
brought squires, and troops of _ --^:-:g^r:r^ 

servants. It was a most gaudy -■^^■-^^T 
and gorgeous crowd, as to 
costumery, and very charac- 
teristic of the coun- 
try and the time, i 
the way of high an 
mal spirits, innocei 
indecencies of Ian 
guage, and happ} 
hearted indifferenc 




to morals. It 

w^al f i g h t or 

look on, all day 

and every day; "sing, dance, cARotrsE every night." 

and sing, gamble, dance, carouse, half the night every night. They 

had a most noble good time. You never saw such people. Those 

banks of beautiful ladies, shining in their barbaric splendors, w"ould 

see a knight sprawl from his horse in the lists with a lance-shaft the 

thickness of your ankle clean through him and the blood spouting, 

and instead of fainting they would clap their hands and crowd each 

other for *a better view ; only sometimes one would dive into her 

handkerchief, and look ostentatiously broken-hearted, and then you 

could lay two to one that there wa<; n^^-a-^^^ fhprp t;nmpwhprp ^r.H 



she was afraid the public hadn't found it oul^ 



7 II K J 'O URNA MEN 1 \ 



109 



The noise at nitjht would have been annoying' to mc ordinarily, 
but I didn't mind it in the ])resent cireumstanees, because it kept me 
from lieariny; the quacks detaching" leg's and arms from the day's 
cripples. They ruined an uncommon good old cross-cut saw for me, 
and broke the saw-buck, too, but 1 let it pass. And as for my axe — 



the next time I lent an 
my century. 

iment from day to 

zwt priest from my 

als and Agriculture, 

it; f o r i t Av a s m y 

should have gotten 

to start a newspaper. 

a ne\v^ cou ntry, is a 

work up your school 

out with your pape r. 

faults, and plenty of 

ter, it's hark from 

d e ad nation, 

get it. You 

'"dead nation 

isn't any way. 

sample things, 

and be finding out "detailed an intelligent priest, and what sort of re- 
ortcr- material I ordered him to report it." ^^j^j^^ ^^ ^^^^j^ 

^ tdee together out of the sixth century when I should come to 
.tbed it. 

"Well, the priest did very well, considering. He got in all the 
details, and that is a good thing in a local item: you see he had kept 
books for the undertaker-department of his church when he was 
younger, and there, you know, the money's in the details ; the more 



well, I made up my mind that 
axe to a surgeon I would pick 
I not only watched this tour- 
day, but detailed an intelli- 
Department of Public Mor- 
and ordered him to repor 
purpose by and by, when 
the people along far enough 
The first thing you want i 
patent offi ce ; the n 
sy ^teir u and nfti-r thiit^ 
A newspaper has its 
them, but no mat- 
the tomb for a 
and don't you for- 
can't resurrect a 
Vv^ithout it ; there 
So I wanted to 




IIO THE TOURNAMEXT. 

ilctails, the more swag: bearers, mutes, candles, prayers, — everything- 
counts; and if the bereaved don't buy prayers enough you mark up 
your cantllcs with a forked j)cncil, antl )'our bill shows up all right. 
And he had a good knack at getting in the complimentary thing here 
and there about a knight that was likely to advertise — no, I mean a 
knight that had influence; and he also had a neat gift of exaggeration, 
for in his time he had kept door for a pious hermit who lived in a sty 
and worked miracles. 

Of course this novice's report lacked whoop and crash and lurid 
description, and therefore wanted the true ring; but its antique word- 
ing was quaint and sweet and simple, and full of the fragrances and 
flavors of the time, and these little merits made up in a measure for 
its more important lacks. Here is an extract from it: 

Then Sir Brian de les Isles and Grummore Grummorsum, knights of the castle, 
encountered with Sir Aglovale and Sir Tor, and Sir Tor smote down Sir Grummore 
Grummorsum to the earth. Then came in Sir Carados of the dolorous tower, and Sir 
Turquine, knights of the castle, and there encountered with them Sir Percivale de Galis 
and Sir Lamorak de Galis, that were two brethren, and there encountered Sir Percivale 
with Sir Carados, and either brake their spears unto their hands, and then Sir Turquine 
with Sir Lamorak, and either of them smote down other, horse and all, to the earth, and 
either parties rescued other and horsed them again. And Sir Arnold, and Sir Gauter, 
knights of the castle, encountered with Sir Brandiles and Sir Kay, and these four 
knights encountered mightily, and brake their spears to their hands. Then came Sir • 
Pertolope from the castle, and there encountered with him Sir Lionel, and there Sir 
Pertolope the green knight smote down Sir Lionel, brother to Sir Launcelot. All this 
was marked by noble heralds, who bare him best, and their names. Then Sir Bleobaris 
brake his spear upon Sir Gareth, but of that stroke Sir Bleobaris fell to the earth. 
When Sir Galihodin saw that, he bad Sir Gareth keep him, and Sir Gareth smote him to 
the earth. Then Sir Galihud gat a spear to avenge his brother, and in the same wise 
Sir Gareth served him, and Sir Dinadan and his brother La Cote Male Taile, and Sir 
Sagramor le Desirous, and Sir Dodinas le Savage; all these he bare down with Oi>^^^}^^j 
When King Agwisance of Ireland saw Sir Gareth fare so he marvelled what he u ^^ l 
that one time seemed green, and another time, at his again coming, he seemed L^ucJ 
And thus at every course that he rode to and fro he changed his color, so that there 
might neither king nor knight have ready cognizance of him. Then Sir Agwisance the 
King of Ireland encountered with Sir Gareth, and there Sir Gareth smote him from his 
horse, saddle and all. And then came King Carados of Scotland, and Sir Gareth smote 
him down horse and man. And in the same wise he served King Uriens of the land of 



THE TOURNAMENT. Ill 

Gore. And then there came in Sir Bagdemagus, and Sir Gareth smote him down horse 
and man to the earth. And Bagdemagus's son -Meliganus brake a spear upon Sir 
Garetli mightily and knightly. And then Sir Galahault the noble prince cried on high. 
Knight with the many colors, well hast thou justed; now make thee ready that I may 
just with thee. Sir Gareth heard him, and he gat a great spear, and so they encountered 
together, and there the prince brake his spear; but Sir Gareth smote him upon the left 
side of the helm, that he reeled here and there, and he had fallen down had not his men 
recovered him. Truly said King Arthur, that knight with the many colors is a good 
knight. Wherefore the king called unto him Sir Launcelot, and prayed him to encoun- 
ter with that knight. Sir, said Launcelot, I may as well find in my heart for to forbear 
him at this time, for he hath had travail enough this day, and when a good knight doth 
so well upon some day, it is no good knight's part to let him of his worship, and, name- 
ly, when he seeth a knight hath done so great labour: for peradventure, said Sir Launcelot, 
his quarrel is here this day, and peradventure he is best beloved with this lady of all 
that be here, for I see well he paineth himself and enforceth him to do great deeds, and 
therefore, said Sir Launcelot, as for me, this day he shall have the honour; though it lay 
in my power to put him from, it, I would not. 

There was an unpleasant little episode that day, which for reasons 
of state I struck out of my priest's report. You will have noticed that 
Garry was doing some great fighting in the engagement. When 1 say 
Garry I mean Sir Gareth. Garry was my private pet name for him; 
it suggests that I had a deep affection for him, and that was the case. 
But it was a private pet name only, and never spoken aloud to any 
one, much less to him; being a noble, he would not have endured a 
familiarity like that from mc. Well, to proceed: 1 sat in the private 
box set apart for mc as the king's minister. While Sir Dinadan was 
waiting for his turn to enter the lists, he came in there and sat down 
and began to talk; for he was always making up to me, because I was 
a stranger and he liked to have a fresh market for his jokes, the most 
of the^i having reached that stage of wear where the teller has to do 
the laiighing himself while the other person looks sick. I had always 
responded to his efforts as well as I could, and felt a very deep and 
real kindness for him, too, for the reason that if by malice of fate he 
knew the one particular anecdote which I had heard oftenest and had 
most hated and most loathed all my life, he had at least spared it me. 



112 THE TOURNAMENT. 

It was one which I had heard attrilnited to every humorous person 
who liad e\'er stootl on .\nierican soil, from Columbus down to Artc- 
mus Ward. It was about a humorous lecturer who flooded an ignorant 
audience with the killingest jokes for an hour and never got a laugh; 
and then when he was leaving, some gray simpletons wrung him 
gratefully by the hand and said it had been the funniest thing they 
had ever heard, and " it was all they could do to keep from laughin' 
right out in meetin'." That anecdote never saw the day that it was 
worth the telling; and yet I had sat under the telling of it hundreds 
and thousands and millions and billions of times, and cried and cursed 
all the way through. Then who can hope to know what my feelings 
were, to hear this armor-plated ass start in on it again, ifi the murky 
twilight of tradition, before the dawn of history, while even Lactantius 
might be referred to as " the late Lacfantius," and the Crusades 
wouldn't be born for five hundred years yet ? Just as he finished, the 
call-boy came; so, haw-hawing like a demon, he went ra'ttling and 
clanking out like a crate of loose castings, and I knew nothing more. 
It was some minutes before I came to, and then I opened my eyes 
just in time to see Sir Gareth fetch him an awful w'elt, and I uncon- 
sciously out with the prayer, " I hope to gracious he's killed ! " But 
by ill-luck, before I had got half through with the words. Sir Gareth 
crashed into Sir Sagramor le Desirous and sent him thundering over 
his horse's crupper, and Sir Sagramor caught my remark and thought 
I meant it for //////. 

Well, wdienevcr one of those people got a thing into his head, 
there was no getting it out again. I knew that, so I saved my breath, 
and offered no explanations. As soon as Sir Sagramor got well, he 
notified me that there was a little account to settle between us, and 
he named a day three or four years in the future; place of settlement, 
the lists where the offense had been given. I said I would be ready 
when he got back. You see, he was going for the Holy Grail. The 



THE TOURNAMENT. 



113 



boys all took a flier at the Ploly Grail now and then. It was a several 
years' cruise. The>' ahva}-s put in the long absence snooping around, 
in the most conscientious way, though none of them had any idea 
where the Holy Grail really was, and I don't think any of them 
actually expected to find it, or would have known what to do with it 




SOME OF THE bOYS GOING A GRAILING. 



if he Jiad run across it. You see, it was just the Northwest Passage of 
that day, as you may say; that was all. Every year expeditions 
went out holy grailing, and next year relief expeditions went out to 
hunt for than. There was worlds of reputation in it, but no money. 
Why, they actually wanted me to put in ! Well, I should smile. 

4** 







^ 



INQuisn'iON 







^v 



CHAPTER X. 



BEGINNINGS OF CIVILIZATION, 

HE Round Table soon heard of 
the challeng^e, and of course it 
was a good deal discussed, for 
such things interested the boys. 
The king thought I ought now 
to set forth in quest of adven- 
tures, so that I might gain re- 
nown and be the more worthy to 
8,.M meet Sir Sagramor when the several 
y ears should have rolled away. I 
excused myself for the present ; I 
said it would take me three or four 
years yet to get things well fixed 
up and going smoothly ; then I 
should be ready ; all the chances 
were that at the end of that time 
Sir Sagramor would still be out 
grailing, so no valuable time would 
t by the postponement; I should then have 
office six or seven years, and I believed my 
nd machinery would be so well developed that 
ake a holiday without its working any harm, 
pretty well satisfied with what I had already 
accomplished. In various quiet nooks and corners I had the begin- 
nings of all sorts of industries under way — nuclei of future vast facto- 
ries, the iron and steel missionaries of my future civilization. In these 




I I 8 BEG/XXLVCS OF CfVIfJZA TION. 

were leathered tosj^ctluT the Ijnj^litest x-ouiil; niiiuls I could fiiul, aiul I 
kei)t ai^ents out r.ikiuL; the countr\- for more, all the time. I was 
traininy^ a crowd of ii;nt)rant folk into experts — experts in every sort 
of handiwork and scientific calling. These nursej;ies of mine went 
smoothly and privately along undisturbed in their obscure country 
retreats, for nobod)- was allowed to come into their precincts without 
a special permit — for I was afraid of the Church. 

I had started a teacher-factory and a lot of Sunday-schools the 
first thing ; as a result, I now had an admirable system of graded 
schools in full blast in those places, and also a complete variety of 
Protestant congregations all in a prosperous and growing condition. 
Everybody could be any kind of a Christian he wanted to; there was 
perfect freedom in that matter. But I confined public religious teach- 
ing to the churches and the Sunday-schools, permitting nothing of it 
in my other educational buildings. I could have given my own sect 
the prefbi'£nce_a^idmade everybody a Presbyterian without any trouble, 
but that would have been to' affront a law of human nature: spiritual 
wants and instincts are a s'\^ari'0 u s'ln" th^"iTu m a n Tamil y as are physical 
appetites, co mplexions7^ 1TH~fegtttres^jmd a man is^only at his best, 
morally, wJi€a__he_js^ equipped with the religious garment whose color 
and shape j^nd size_ nriost_nicel y accomm odate themselves to the spirit- 
ual comple xion, angu larities, and stature of the individual who w'ears 
it; and besides I wa s afraid of a united Church; it makes a mighty 
power, the mightiest conceivable, and then when it by and by gets 
into selfish hands, as it is always bound t o do, it means death to 
Truman liberty, and paralysis to hum an thought. ^~" 

All mines were royal property, and there were a good many of 
them. They had formerly been worked as savages always work 
mines — holes grubbed in the earth and the mineral brought up in sacks 
of hide by hand, at the rate of a ton si day; but I had begun to put 
the mining on a scientific basis as early as I could. 



BEGINNINGS OF CIVIIIZA TION. 



lig 



Yes, I liad made pretty liandsome progress when Sir Sagramor's 
challenge struck me. 

Four years rolled by — and then! Well, you would never imagine 

it in the world. Unlimited power /s the ideal th ing when it is in sa fe 

^ ■ i . ■ ■ ■ 

ha nds. T he despotism of heaven is the one absolutely perfect gov- 




" THE MiNFTELMH CENTURY 
BOOMINCr UNDER IIS VERY NOSE. 

ernment. An earthly des- 
potism would be the abso- 
lutely perfect earthly gov- 
^^"^^ ernment, if the conditions 

were the same, namely, the despot the perfectest individual of the 
human race, and his lease of life perpetual. But as a perishable per- 
fect man must die, and leave his despotism in the hands of an imperfect 
successor, an earthly despotism is not merely a bad form of govern- 
ment, it is the worst form that is possible. 

My works showed what a despot could do with the resources of a 



I20 BEGINNTNGS OF CIVIIJZATIOX. y 

kingdom at liis command. Unsuspected b}' this dark land, I had the 
civilization of the nineteenth centiir\- booming under its very nose ! It 
was fenced away from the public view, but there it was, a gigantic 
and unassailable fact — and to be heard from, yet, if I lived and had 
luck. There it was, as sure a fact, and as substantial a fact as any 
serene volcano, standing innocent with its smokeless summit in the 
blue sky and giving no sign of the rising hell in its bowels. My 
schools and churches were children four years before; they were 
grown-up, now; my shops of that day were vast factories, now; 
where I had a dozen trained m.en then, I had a thousand, now; 
where I had one brilliant expert then, I had fifty now. I stood with 
my hand on 4|Bk cock, so to speak, ready to turn it on and flood the 
midnight world with light at any moment. But I was not going to 
do the thing in that sudden way. It was not my policy. The peo- 
ple could not have stood it; and moreover I should have had the 
Established Roman Catholic Church on my back in a minute. 

' No, I had been going cautiously all the while. I had had confiden- 
tial agents trickling through the country some time, whose office was 
to undermine knighthood by imperceptible degrees, and to gnaw a lit- 
tle at this and that and the other superstition, and so prepare the 
way gradually for a better order of things. I was turning on my light 
one-candle-power at a time, and meant to continue to do so. 

I had scattered some branch schools secretly about the kingdom, 
and they were doing very well. I meant to work this racket more and 
more, as time wore on, if nothing occurred to frighten me. One of 
my deepest secrets was my West Point — my military academy. I kept 
that most jealously out of sight; and I did the same with my naval 
academy which I had established at a remote seaport. Both were 
prospering to my satisfaction. *" 

Clarence was twenty-two now, and was my head executive, jpy 
right hand. He was a darling; he was equal to anything; there 



BEGINNINGS OF CIVILIZATION. 



121 



wasn't anythinc;' he couUlii't turn his hand to. Of kite I liad been 
training him for journaHsm, for the time seemed about right for a 
start in the newspaper hne; nothing big, but just a small weekly for 
experimental circulation in my civilization-nurseries. He took to it 
like a duck; there was an editor concealed in him, sure. Already he 



had doubled himself 
sixth century and 
journalistic style was 
w a s_al r ea dy-«f^ to th e 
b a m a mark, and 
from^the editorial 
e ij; h er by matter 

We had another 
hand, too. This was 
phone; our first ven- 
wires were for private 
and must be kept pri- 
should come. We had 
road, working 
were string- 
were afraid to _. 
would attract 
Ground wires 
enough, in 
for my wires 
by an insula- 




A WEST POINTER. 



in one way; he talked 

wrote nineteenth. His 

climbing, steadily; it 

back set tleme nt Ala- 

couldn/t^ be tol3~ 

output of that region 

or flavor. 

large departure on 

a telegraph and a tele- 

ture in this line. These 

service only, as yet, 

vate until a riper day 

a gang of men on the 

mainly by night. They 

ing ground wires; we 

put up poles, for they 

too much inquiry. 

were good 

c^j, both instances, 

were protected 

tion of my own 



invention which was perfect. My men had orders to strike across 
country, avoiding roads, and establishing connection with any con- 
siderable towns whose lights betrayed their presence, and leaving 
experts in charge. Nobody could tell you how to find any place in 
the kingdom, for nobody ever went intentionally to any place, but 



I 22 



BEGINNINGS OF CIVILIZATION. 



only struck it by accident in his Avandcrings, and then generally left 
it without thinking to inquire what its name was. At one time and 
another we had sent out topographical expeditions to survey and map 
the kingdom, but the priests had always interfered and raised trouble. 
So we had given the thing up, for the present; it would be poor wis- 
dom to antagonize the Church. 

As for the general condition of the 
country, it was as it had been when I 
arrived in it, to all intents and purposes. 
I had made changes, but they were 
necessarily slight, and they were not 
noticeable. Thus far, I had not even 
meddled with taxation, outside of the 
S"^::^ taxes which pro- 

vided the royal 
revenues. I had 
systematized 
those, and put the service 
on an effective and right- 
eous basis. As a result, 
these revenues were al- 
ready quadrupled, and yet 
the burden was so much 
more equably distributed 
than before, that all the 
kingdom felt a sense of relief, and the praises of my administration 
were hearty and general. 

Personally, I struck an interruption, now, but I did not mind it, it 
could not have happened at a better time. Earlier it could have 
annoyed me, but now everything was in good hands and swimming 
right along. The king had reminded me several times, of late, 




A MIDDY FROM MY NAVAL 
ACADEMY. 



BEG IX XI A T; S of C 7 1 '/L /Z.l 7 VOX. I 2 3 

that the postponement I had asked for, four years before, had about 
run out, now. It was a hint that 1 ought to be starting out to seek 
adventures and get up a reputation of a size to make me worthy of the 
honor of breaking a lance with Sir Sagramor, who was still out grail- 
ing, but was being hunted for by various relief expeditions, and might 
be found any year, now. So you see I was expecting this interruption; 
it did not take me by surprise. 




.V 



•^^^-^o 



A 




CHAPTER XI. 

THE ya\kp:e in search of adventures. 

HKRE never was such a country for wandering- 
liars; and they were of both sexes. Hardly a 
month went b}- without one of these tramps 
arrivini^; and generally loaded with a tale about 



■A,f! 



f^j some princess or other wanting help 



to get her out of some far-away castle 
where she was held in captivity by a 
lawless scoundrel, usually a giant. Now 

e first thing the 
king would do 
after listening 
to such a nov- 
elette from 
an entire 
stranger, 
would be to 
ask for creden- 
tials — yes, and 
a pointer or 
two as to lo- 
cality of cas- 
tle, best route 
to it, and so 

"THE HOVS HELPED ME, OR I NEVER COULD HAVE GOT IN." On. But nO- 

body ever thought of so simple and common-sense a thing as that. 
No, everybody swallowed these people's lies whole, and never asked 



128 



THE YANKEE !N SEARCH OE ADVENTURES. 



^ question of any sort or about anythini^. Well, one day when I was 
not around, one of these people came along-it was a she one, th.s 
time-ancl t<.ld a tale of the usual pattern. Her mistress was a cap- 
tive in a vast and -loomy castle, along with forty-four other young 
and beautiful girls, pretty much all of them princesses; they had been 
lan-uishing in that cruel captivity for twenty-six years; the masters 
of the castle were three stupendous brothers, each with four arms and 
one eye-the eye in the centre of the forehead, and as big as a fruit. 
Sort of fruit not mentioned; their usual slovenliness in statistics. 

Would you believe It.' The king and the whole Round Table 
were in raptures over this preposterous opportunity for adventure. 
Fvery knight of the Table jumped for the chance, and begged for it; 
but to their vexation and chagrin the king conferred it "Pon^^^^^' ^^'^^^ 
had not asked for it at all. 

By an effort, I contained my joy when Clar- 
ence brought me the news. But he— he could 
not contain his. His mouth gushed delight and 
gratitude in a steady discharge— delight 
in my good fortune, gratitude to the king 
for this splendid mark of his favor for me. 
He could keep neither his legs nor his 
body still, but pirouetted about the place 
in an airy ecstasy of happiness. 
. On my side, I could have 
cursed the kindness 
that conferred upon 
me this benefaction, 
but I kept my 

vexation un- ,,iS^^mW^^^^'''=^ "" -S^i- 
der the sur- j_3i:^.i£-^i^ ■ 

f for poll ™E THREE BROTHERS, AS DESCRIBED BY SANDY. 





THE YANKEE IN SEARCH OF AD VENTURES. 



129 



cy's sake, and did what I could to let on to be glad. Indeed, 1 said 
I was glad. And in a way it was true; I was as glad as a person is 
JwEen he is scalped. 

Well, one must make the best of things, and not waste time with 
useless fretting, but get down to business and see what can be done. 
In all lies there is wheat among the chaff; I m»st get at the wheat 
in this case: so I sent for the girl and she came. She was a comely 
enough creature, and soft and modest, but if signs went for anything, 
she didn't know as much as a lady's watch. I said — 

" My dear, have you been questioned as to particulars.''" 

She said she hadn't. 

"Well, I didn't expect you had, but I thought I would ask to 
make sure; it's the way I've been raised. Now you mustn't take it 
unkindly if J remind you that as we don't know you, we must go a 
little slow. You may be all right, of course, and we'll hope that you 
are; but to take it for granted isn't business. Yoit understand that. 
I'm obliged to ask you a few questions; just answer up fair and 
square, and don't be afraid. Where do you live, when you are at 
home .^ " 

" In the land of Moder, fair sir." 

" Land of Moder. I don't remember hearing of it before. Parents 
living } " 

"As to that, I know not if they be yet on live, sith it is many years 
that I have lain shut up in the castle." 

" Your name, please .' " 

" I hight the Demoiselle Alisande la Carteloisc, an it please you." 

" Do you know anybody here who can identify you .'' " 

" That were not likely, fair lord, I being come hither now for the 
first time." 

" Have you brought any letters — any documents — any proofs that 
you are trustworthy and truthful } " 



130 T}IK VAXKtlE IX SEARCH OF ADVEXTURES. 

"Of a surct}-, iKi; and wherefore should I? Have I not a tongue, 
and cannot I say all that myself? " 

" ^wtyoiir saying it, you know, and somebody else's saying it, is 
different." 

" Different? How might that be? I fear me I do not understand." 

" Don't u)idcrsta)id .' Land of — why, you see — you see — why, great 
Scott, can't you understand a little thing like that? Can't you under- 
stand the difference between your — zcJiy do you look so innocent and 
idiotic! " 

" I ? In truth I know not, but an it were the will of God." 

" Yes, yes. I reckon that's about the size of it. Don't mind my 
seeming excited; I'm not. Let us change the subject. Now as to this 
castle, with forty-five princesses in it, and three ogres at the head of 
it, tell me— where is this harem? " 

" Harem? " 

" The castle, you understand; where is the castle?" 

" Oh, as to that, it is great, and strong, and well besecn, and lieth 
in a far country. Yes, it is many leagues." 

'"Hoiu many? " 

"Ah, fair sir, it were woundily hard to tell, they are so m.any, and 
do so lap the one upon the other, and being made all in the same image 
and tincted with the same color, one may not know the one league 
from its fellow, nor how to count them except they be taken apart, 
and ye wit well it were God's work to do that, being not within man's 
capacit}'; for ye will note — " 

" Hold on, hold on, never mind about the distance; wJicrcahouts 
does the castle lie ? What's the direction from here ? " 

"Ah, please you sir, it hath no direction from here; by reason 
that the road lieth not straight, but turneth evermore; wherefore 
the direction of its place abideth not, but is sometime under the one 
sky and anon under another, whereso if ye be minded that it is in the 




"GREAT SCOTT, C 



AN'T you UlNUiiKSTAND A LIXILK THING LIKE THAT?" 
131 



132 THE YANKEE IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURES. 

cast, and wciul thithcrwartl, }'c shall observe that the way of the roat! 
doth yet again turn upon itself b)- the space of half a circle, and this 
marvel happing again and yet again and still again, it will grieve you 
that )ou had thought by vanities of the mind to thwart and bring to 
naught the will of Him that giveth not a castle a direction from a place 
except it pleaseth Ilim, and if it please Him not, will the rather that 
even all castles and all directions thereunto vanish out of the earth, 
leaving the places wherein they tarried desolate and vacant, so 
warning His creatures that where He will He will, and where He will 
not He — " 

"Oh, that's all right, that's all right, give us a rest; never mind 
about the direction, Jiang the direction — I beg pardon, I beg a thousand 
pardons, I am not well to-day; pay no attention when I soliloquize, 
it is an old habit, an old, bad habit, and hard to get rid of when one's 
digestion is all disordered with eating food that was raised forever and 
ever before he was born; good land! a man can't keep his functions 
regular on spring chickens thirteen hundred years old. But come — 
never mind about that; let's — have you got such a thing as a map of 
that region about you ? Now a good map — " 

" Is it peradventure that manner of thing which of late the unbe- 
lievers have brought from over the great seas, which, being boiled in 
oil, and an onion and salt added thereto, doth — " 

"What, a map? What are you talking about? Don't }-ou know 
what a map is? There, there, nc\-cr mind, don't explain, I hate expla- 
nations; they fog a thing up so that }'ou can't tell anything about it. 
Run along, dear; good-day; show her the way, Clarence." 

Oh, well, it was reasonably plain, now, why these donke}-s didn't 
prospect these liars for details. It may be that this girl had a fact in 
her somewhere, but I don't believe }'ou could have sluiced it out with 
a hydraulic ; nor got it with the earlier forms of blasting, even ; it was 
a case for dynamite. Why, she was a perfect ass; and yet the king 



THE YANKEE IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURES. I 33 

and his knights had Hstcned to her as if she had been a leaf out of the 
gospel. It kind of sizes up the whole party. And think of the simple 
ways of this court: this wandering wench hadn't any more trouble to 
get access to the king in his palace than she would have had to get 
into the poor-house in my day and country. In fact he was glad to 
see her, glad to hear her tale; with that adventure of hers to offer, she 
was as welcome as a corpse is to a coroner. 

Just as I was ending-up these reflections, Clarence came back. I 
remarked upon the barren result of my efforts with the girl; hadn't got 
hold of a single point that could help me to find the castle. The 
youth looked a little surprised, or puzzled, or something, and intimated 
that he had been wondering to himself what I had wanted to ask the 
girl all those questions for. 

" Why, great guns," I said, "don't I want to find the castle.-* And 
how else would I go about it.' " 

" La, sweet your worship, one may lightly answer that, I ween. 
She will go with thee. They always do. She will ride with thee." 

" Ride with me.'' Nonsense! " 

" But of a truth she will. She will ride with thee. Thou shalt see." 

"What.' She browse around the hills and scour the woods with 
me — alone — and I as good as engaged to be married.' Why, it's scan- 
dalous. Think how it would look." 

My, the dear face that rose before me! The boy was eager to 
know all about this tender matter. I swore him to secrecy and then 
whispered her name — " Puss Flanagan." He looked disappointed, 
and said he didn't remember the countess. How natural it was for the 
little courtier to give her a rank. He asked me where she lived. 

" In East Har — " I came to myself and stopped, a little confused; 
then I said, " Never mind, now; I'll tell you sometime." 

And might he see her.' Would I let him see her some day.' 

It was but a little thing to promise — thirteen hundred years or so — 



134 ^'^^^' yAXK'EE IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURES. 

and he so eager; so I said Yes. But 1 sighed; I couldn't help it. 
And yet there was no sense in sighing, for she wasn't born yet. But 
that is the way we are made: we don't reason, where we feel; we just 
feel. 

My e.xpedition was all the talk that day and that night, and the 
boys were very good to me, and made much of me, and seemed to 
have forgotten their vexation and disappointment, and come to be as 
anxious for me to hive those ogres and set those ripe old virgins loose 
as if it were themselves that had the contract. Well, they were good 
children — but just children, that is all. And they gave me no end of 
points about how to scout for giants, and how to scoop them in; and 
they told me all sorts of charms against enchantments, and gave me 
salves and other rubbish to put on my wounds. But it never occurred 
to one of them to reflect that if I was such a wonderful necromancer 
as I was pretending to be, I ought not to need salves or instructions, 
or charms against enchantments, and least of all, arms and armor, on 
a foray of any kind — even against fire-spouting dragons, and devils hot 
from perdition, let alone such poor adversaries as these I was after, 
these commonplace ogres of the back settlements. 

I was to have an early breakfast, and start at dawn, for that A\'as 
the usual way; but I had the demon's own time with my armor, and 
this delayed me a little. It is troublesome to get into, and there is so 
much detail. First you wrap a layer or two of blanket around your 
bod}', for a sort of cushion and to keep off the cold iron; then you put 
on your sleeves and shirt of chain-mail — these are made of small steel 
links woven together, and they form a fabric so flexible that if you 
toss your shirt onto the floor, it slumps into a pile like a peck of 
wet fish-net; it is very heavy and is nearly the uncomfortablest mate- 
rial in the world for a night-shirt, yet plenty used it for that — tax col- 
lectors, and reformers, and one-horse kings with a defective title, and 
those sorts of people; then you put on your shoes — flat-boats roofed 



THE YANKEE IN SEARCH OE ADVENTURES. I 35 

over with interleaving bands of steel — and screw your clumsy spurs 
into the heels. Next you buckle your greaves on your legs, and your 
cuisses on your thighs; then come your backplate and your breast- 
plate, and you begin to feel crowded; then you hitch onto the breast- 
plate the half-petticoat of broad overlapping bands of steel which 
hangs down in front but is scolloped out behind so you can sit down, 
and isn't any real improvement on an inverted coal scuttle, either for 
looks or for wear, or to wipe your hands on; next you belt on your 
sword; then you put your stove-pipe joints onto your arms, your iron 
gauntlets onto your hands, your iron rat-trap onto your head, with a 
rag of steel web hitched onto it to hang over the back of your neck 
— and there you are, snug as a candle in a candle-mould. This is no 
time to dance. Well, a man that is packed away like that, is a nut 
that isn't worth the cracking, there is so little of the meat, when you 
get down to it, by comparison with the shell. 

The boys helped me, or I never could have got in. Just as we 
finished, Sir Bedivere happened in, and I saw that as like as not I 
hadn't chosen the most convenient outfit for a long trip. How 
stately he looked ; and tall and broad and grand. He had on his 
head a conical steel casque that only came down to his ears, and 
for visor had only a narrow steel bar that extended down to his 
upper lip and protected his nose; and all the rest of him, from neck 
to heel, was flexible chain-mail, trowsers and all. But pretty much 
all of him was hidden under his outside garment, which of course 
was of chain-mail, as I said, and hung straight from his shoulders 
to his ancles; and from his middle to the bottom, both before and 
behind, was divided, so that he could ride and let the skirts hang 
down on each side. He was going grailing, and it was just the outfit 
for it, too. I would have given a good deal for that ulster, but it 
was too late now to be fooling around. The sun was just up, the 
king and the court were all on hand to see me off and wish me 



136 



THE VAXKEK I.X SEAKCJI O FAD V EXTLKES. 



luck; so it wouldn't be etiquette for me to tarry. You don't ^^et on 
your horse yourself; no, if you tried it you would get disappointed. 
They carry }-ou out, just as they carry a sun -struck man to the drug 
store, and put }-ou on, and help get }'ou to rights, and fix your feet 
in the stirrups; and all the while n'ou do feel so strange and stuffy 




"and so we started." 

and like somebody else — like somebody that has been married on a 
sudden, or struck by lightning, or something like that, and hasn't 
quite fetched around, yet, and is sort of numb, and can't just get 
his bearings. Then they stood up the mast they called a spear, in 
its socket by my left foot, and I gripped it with my hand; lastly 
they hung my shield around my neck, and I was all complete and 



THE YANKEE IN SEAKCIf OE ADVENTURES. I 37 

ready to up anclior and [^ct tc^ sea. Iwerybody was as good to me 
as they could be, and a maid of honor gave me the stirrup-cup her 
own self. There was nothing more to do, now, but for that damsel 
to get up behind me on a pillion, which she did, and put an arm or 
so around me to hold on. 

And so we started; and everybody gave us a good-bye and waved 
their handkerchiefs or helmets. And everybod)- we met, going down 
the hill and through the village was respectful to us, except some 
shabb}' little boys on the outskirts. They said — 

" Oh, what a guy! " And hove clods at us. 

In my experience boys ar e the sam e in all_ages. They don't 



respect anything, they don't care for anyt hing or anybod^ ^ The y; 



say ^MSo up^lSaraiiead^Tothe prophet going his unoffending way^ 
the gray of antiquity; they sass me in the holy gloom of the Middle 
Ages; and I had seen them act the same way in Buchanan's admin- 
istration; I remember, because I was there and helped. The prophet 
had his bears and settled with his boys; and I wanted to get down 
and settle with mine, but it wouldn't answer, because I couldn't have 
got up again. I hate a country without a derrick. 




^ 



f\ 




CHAPTER XII. 



SLOW TORTURE. 



TRAIGHT off, we were in the country. It 
was most lovely and pleasant in those syl- 
van solitudes in the early cool morninij in 
the first freshness of autumn. From hill- 
tops we saw fair green valleys lying spread out 
below, with streams winding through them, and isl- 
and-groves of trees here and there, and huge lonely 
oaks scattered about and casting black blots of shade; 



and be y o n d 
ranges of hills, 
away in bil- ^q 



horizon, with 



the valleys we saw the 
blue with haze, stretching 
lowy perspective to the 
at wide intervals a dim 
fleck of white or gray on a 




wave-summit, \\hich we knew was a castle. We crossed broad 
natural lawns sparkling with dew, and we moved like spirits, the 



142 



SL014'' TORTURE. 



cushioned turf giving out no sound of foot-fall; we dreamed along 
through glades in a mist of green light that got its tint from the sun- 
drenched roof of leaves overhead, and b)- our feet the clearest and 
coldest of runlets went frisking and gossiping over its reefs and mak- 
ing a sort of whispering music comfortable to hear; and at times we 
left the world behind and entered into the solemn great deeps and 
rich gloom of the forest, where furtive wild things whisked and scur- 



ried by and were 
even get your eye \:^ 
noise was; and 



. fi/^ 



/ 



gone before you could 
on the place where the 
wheie only the earliest 




birds were turning out and getting to business with a song here and a 
quarrel yonder and a mysterious far-off hammering and drumming for 
worms on a tree-trunk away somewhere in the impenetrable remote- 
nesses of the woods. And by and by out we would swing again into 
the glare. 

About the third or fourth or fifth time that we swung out into the 
glare — it was along there somewhere, a couple of hours or so after 
sun-up — it wasn't as pleasant as it had been. It was beginning to get 
hot. This was quite noticeable. We had a very long pull, after that, 
without any shade. Now it is curious how progressively little frets i 



SLOW TORTURE. 1 43 

grow and multiply after they once get a start. Things which I didn't 
mind at all, at first, I began to mind now — and more and more, too, 
all the time. The first ten or fifteen times I wanted my handkerchief 
I didn't seem to care; I got along, and said never mind, it isn't an}' 
matter, and dropped it out of my mind. But now it was different; I 
wanted it all the time; it.was nag, nag, nag, right along, and no rest; 
I couldn't get it out of my mind; and so at last I lost my temper and 
said hang a man that would make a suit of armor without any pockets 
in it. You see I had my handkerchief in m}- helmet; and some other 
things; but it was that kind of a helmet that you can't take off b}- 
}'ourself That hadn't occurred to me when I put it there; and in 
fact I tlidn't know it. I supposed it would be particularly convenient 
there. And so now, the thought of its being there, so handy and 
close by, and yet not get-at-able, made it all the worse and the harder 
to bear. Yes, the thing that you can't get is the thing that )'ou want, 
mainly; everyone has noticed that. Well, it took my mind off from 
everything else; took it clear off, and centred it in my helmet; and 
mile after mile, there it staid, imagining the handkerchief, picturing 
the handkerchief; and it was bitter and aggravating to have the salt 
sweat keep trickling down into my eyes, and I couldn't get at it. It 
seems like a little thing, on paper, but it was not a little thing at all; 
it was the most real kind of misery. I would not say it if it was not 
so. I made up my mind that I would carry along a reticule next 
time, let it look how it might, and people say what they would. Of 
course these iron dudes of the Round Table would think it was 
scandalous, and maybe raise Sheol about it, but as for me, give me 
comfort first, and st}-le afterwards. So we jogged along, and now and 
then we struck a stretch (jf dust, and it would tumble up in clouds 
and get into my nose and make me sneeze and cry; and of course I 
said things I oughtn't to have said, I don't deny that. I am not 
better than others. We couldn't seem to meet anybody in this lone- 



144 



SLO^V TORTURE. 



some Britain, not even an ogre; and in the mood I was in then, it 
was well for the ogre; that is, an ogre with a handkerchief. Most 
kni-hts wouhl have thought of nothing but getting his armor; but 
so I got his bandanna, lie could keep his hardware, for all mc. 

Meantime it was getting hotter and hotter in there. You see, the 

sun was beating down and warm- 
mg up the iron more and more all 







the time. Well, when you are 
hot, that way, every little thing 
irritates }-ou. When I trotted, I 
rattled like a crate of dishes, and 
that annoyed me; and moreover 
I couldn't seem to stand that 
shield slatting and banging, now 
about my breast, now around my 
back; and if I dropped into a 
w\alk my joints creaked and 
screeched in that wearisome way 
that a wheelbarrow does, and as 
we didn't create any breeze at 
that gait, I was like to get fried 
in that stove; and besides, the 
quieter you went the heavier the 
iron settled down on you and the 
more and more tons you seemed 
EFFECT OF TaE SUN ON THE IRON CLOTHES, to wcigh cvcfy minutc. And you 
had to be always changing hands, and passing your spear over to the 
other foot, it got so irksome for one hand to hold it long at a time. 

Well, you know, when you perspire that way, in rivers, there comes 
a time when you — when you — well, when you itch. You are inside, 
your hands are outside; so there you are; nothing but iron between. 




SLOW TORTURE. 



T45 



It is not a light thing, let it sound as it may. First it is one place; 
then another; then some more; and it goes on spreading and spread- 
ing, and at last the territory is all occupied, and nobody can imagine 
what you feel like, nor how unpleasant it is. And when it had got to 
the worst, and it seemed to me that I could not stand an)'thing more, 
a fly got in through the bars and settled on my nose, and the bars 
were stuck and wouldn't work, and I couldn't get the visor up; and I 
could only shake my head, which was baking hot by this time, and 
the fly — well, you know how a fly acts when he has got a certainty — • 
he only minded the shaking enough to change from nose to lip, and 
lip to ear, and buzz and buzz all around in there, and keep on lighting 
and biting, in a way that a person already so distressed as I was, 
simpl}' could not stand. So I gave in, and got Alisandc to unship the 
helmet and relieve me of it. Then she emptied the conveniences out 
of it and fetched it full of water, and I drank and then stood up and 
she poured the rest down inside the armor. One cannot think how 
refreshing it was. She continued to fetch and pour until I was well 
soaked and thoroughly comfortable. 

It was good to have a rest — and peace. But nothing is quite per- 
fect in this life, at any time. I had made a pipe a while back, and 
also some pretty fair tobacco; not the real thing, but what some of 
the Indians use: the inside bark of the willow, dried. These com- 
forts had been in the helmet, and now I had them again, but no 
matches. 

Gradually, as the time wore along, one annoying fact was borne in 
upon my understanding — that we were weather-bound. An armed 
novice cannot mount his horse without help and plenty of it. Sand}' 
was not enough; not enough for me, anyway. We had to wait until 
somebody should come along. Waiting, in silence, would have been 
agreeable enough, for I was full of matter for reflection, and wanted 
to give it a chance to work. I wanted to try and think out how it 




" SHE CONTINUED TO FETCH AND POUR UNTIL I WAS WELL SOAKED.' 

146 



SLOW TORTURE. 1 47 

was that rational or even half-rational men could ever have learned 
to wear armor, considering its inconveniences; and how they had 
managed to keep up such a fashion for generations when it was plain 
that what I hatl sufferctl to-day they had had to suffer all the days of 
their lives. I wanted to think that out; and moreover I wanted to 
think out some way to reform this evil and persuade the people to let 
the foolish fashion die out; but thinking was out of the question in 
the circumstances. You couldn't think, where Sandy was. She was 
a quite biddable creature and good-hearted, but she had a flow of talk 
that was as steady as a mill, and made your head sore like the drays 
and wagons in a city. If she had had a cork she would have been a 
comfort. But you can't cork that kind; they would die. Her clack 
was going all day, and }-ou would think something would surely hap- 
pen to her works, by and by; but no, they never got out of order; 
and she never had to slack up for words. She could grind, and pump, 
and churn and buzz by the week, and never stop to oil up or blow out. 
And yet the result was just nothing but wind. She never had any 
ideas, any more than a fog has. She was a perfect blatherskite; I 
mean for jaw, jaw, jaw, talk, talk, talk, jabber, jabber, jabber; but just 
as good as she could be. I hadn't minded her mill that morning, on 
account of having that hornet's nest of other troubles; but more than 
once in the afternoon I had to say — 

" Take a rest, child; the way }'ou are using up all the domestic air, 
the kingdom \\\\\ have to go to importing it by to-morrow, and it's a 
low enough treasury without that." 




■^O^i^ 



5*« 



CHAPTER XIII. 
kki;kmi-;n! 




P^S, it is strange how little a while at a time a person can 
be contented. Only a little while back, when I was 
riding and suffering, what a heaven this peace, this rest, 
tliis sweet serenity in this secluded shady nook by this 
purling stream would have seemed, where I could keep 
perfectly comfortable all the time by pouring a dipper of 
water into my armor now and then; yet already I was 
getting dissatisfied; partly because I could not light my 
pipe — for although I had long ago started a match fac- 
- tory, I had forgotten to bring matches with me — and 
partly because we had nothing to eat. Here was another 
illustration of the childlike improvidence of this age and 
people. A man in armor always trusted to chance for his 
food on a journey, and would have been scandalized at the 
idea of hanging a basket of sandwiches on his spear. Tlierc 



I 5 2 FREEMEN! 

was probably not a knic^ht of all the Round Table combination who 
would not rather ha\'e died than been cauj^ht carrying such a thing as 
that on his flagstaff. And \et there could not be anything more sen- 
sible. It had been my intention to smuggle a couple of sandwiches 
into my helmet, but I was interrupted in the act, and had to make an 
excuse and lay them aside, and a dog got them. 

Night approached, and with it a storm. The darkness came on 
fast. We must camp, of course. I found a good shelter for the 
demoiselle under a rock, and went off and found another for myself 
But I was obliged to remain in my armor, because I could not get it 
off by myself and yet could not allow Alisandc to help, because it 
would have seemed so like undressing before folk. It would not have 
amounted to that in reality, because I had clothes on underneath ; 
but the prejudices of one's breeding are not gotten rid of just at a jump, 
and I knew that when it came to stripping off that bob-tailed iron 
petticoat I should be embarrassed. 

With the storm came a change of weather; and the stronger the 
wind blew, and the wilder the rain lashed around, the colder and 
colder it got. Pretty soon, various kinds of bugs and ants and worms 
and things began to flock in out of the wet and crawl down inside my 
armor to get warm; and while some of them behaved Avell enough, 
and snuggled up amongst my clothes and got quiet, the majority were 
of a restless, uncomfortable sort, and never stayed still, but went on 
prowling and hunting for they did not know what ; especially the 
ants, which went tickling along in wearisome procession from one end 
of me to the other by the hour, and are a kind of creatures which I 
never wish to sleep with again. It would be my advice to persons 
situated in this way, to not roll or thrash around, because this excites 
the interest of all the different sorts of animals and makes every last 
one of them want to turn out and see what is going on, and this makes 
things worse than they were before, and of course makes you objur- 



FREEMEN! 1 53 

q-ate harder, too, if you can. Still, if one did not roll and thrash 
;•. round he would die; so perhaps it is as well to do one way as the 
other, there is no real choice. Even after I was frozen solid I could 
still distinguish that tickling, just as a corpse does when he is taking 
electric treatment. I said I would never wear armor after this trip. 

All those trying hours whilst I was frozen and yet was in a living 
fire, as you may say, on account of that swarm of crawlers, that same 
unanswerable question kept circling and circling through my tired 
head: How do people stand this miserable armor. ^ How have they 
managed to stand it all these generations.^ How can they sleep at 
night for dreading the tortures of next day.-* 

When the morning came at last, I was in a bad enough plight: 
seedy, drowsy, fagged, from want of sleep ; weary from thrashing 
around, famished from long fasting; pining for a bath, and to get rid 
of the animals; and crippled with rheumatism. And how had it fared 
with the nobly born, the titled aristocrat, the Demoiselle Alisande la 
Carteloise.' Why, she was as fresh as a squirrel; she had slept like 
tlie dead; and as for a bath, probably neither she nor any other noble 
in the land had ever had one, and so she was not missing it. Me^- 
uredJiy_DiQ ^ern standar ds, t hey were merely m odified savages, J iiose 
pe ople. This noble lady showed no impatience to get to breakfast — 
and that smacks of the savage, too. On their journeys those Britons 
were used to long fasts, and knew how to bear them; and also how 
to freight up against probable fasts before starting, after the style of 
the Indian and the anaconda. As like as not, Sandy was loaded for a 
three-day stretch. 

We were off before sunrise, Sandy riding and I limping along 
Ijehind. In half an hour we came upon a group of ragged poor crea- 
tures who had assembled to mend the thing which was regarded as a 
road. They were as humble as animals to me; and when I proposed 
'j to breakfast with them, they were so flattered, so overwhelmed by 



154 



FREEMEN! 



this extraordinary condescension of mine that at first they were not 
able to belie\'e that I was in earnest. My lady put up her scornful 
\'\\) and withdrew to one side; she said in their hearinj^ that she would 
as soon think of eating with the other cattle — a remark which embar- 
rassed these poor devils merely because it referred to them, and not 
because it insulted or offended them, for it didn't. And yet they were 
not slaves, not chattels. Bya sajxaanLjQLlg: ^^' ^"^ ph rase they were 
freemen. Se^n-tenths of the free population of the country were of 
just their class and degree: small "independent" farmers, artisans, 
etc.; which is to say, they were the nation, the actual Nation;;^ they 
were about all of it that was useful, or worth saving, or really respect- ~ 
worthy; and to subtract them would have been to subtract the -Nation 
and leave ^eji ind son ieL-iigeg^s, some refuse, in the shape of asking, 
nobility and gentry, idle, unproductive, acquainted mainly with'ilTe" 
arts of wasting and destroying, and of no sort of use or value in any^ ~ 
rationally constructed world. And yet, by ingenious contrivance, 

this gilded minority, instead of being in the tail of 
^%- W^'^ ^^^ procession where it belonged, was marching 

head up and banners flying, at the other end of it; 




BY A SARCASM OF LAW AND PHRASE THEY WERE FREEMEN." 



FREEMEN! 1 5^ 

had elected itself to be the Nation, and these innumerable clams had 



permitted it so long that thcv had come at last to accept it as a truth; 
ana liaf 




priesmTad told their fathers and themselves that this ironical state of 
things was ordained of God; and so, not reflecting upon how unlike 
God it would be to amuse himself with sarcasms, and especially such 
poor transparent ones as this, they had dropped the matter there and 
become respectfull)- quiet. 

The talk of these meek people had a strange enough sound in a 
formerly American -v -^.^ ear. They were free- 



men, but the}' could 
of their lord or then 




not leave the estates 
bishop without his per- 



TO SUBTRACT THE NATION AND LEAVE BE- 
HIND SOME DREGS." 

mission; they could not prepare their own bread, but must have their 
corn ground and their bread baked at his mill and his bakery, and pay 
roundly for the same; they could not sell a piece of their own propert)- 
without paying him a handsome percentage of the proceeds, nor buy a 
piece of somebody else's without remembering him in cash for the priv- 
ilege; they had to harvest his grain for him gratis, and be ready to come 
at a moment's notice, leaving their own crop to destruction by the 



156 



FREEMEN! 



threatened storm; they had to let him plant fruit trees in their fields, 
and then keep their indignation to themselves when his heedless fruit 
gatherers trampled the grain around the trees; they had to smoiher 
their anger wIrmi his hunting parties galloped through their fields lay- 
ing waste the result of their patient toil; they were not allowed to 
keep doves themselves, and when the swarms from my lord's dovecote 
settled on their crops they must not lose their temper and kill a bird, 
for awful would the penalty be; when the harvest was at last gathered, 
then came the procession of robbers to levy their blackmail upon it: 
first the Chujch -carted off its fat tenth, then the king's commissioner 

took his twenti- 



eth, then m }' 
lord's p e o p I e 
made a mighty 
inroad upon the 
remainder; after 
which, the skin- 
ned freeman had 
libert}- to bestow 
'■ ~ the remnant in 

his barn, in case it was worth the trouble; there were taxes, and 
taxes, and taxes, and more taxes, and taxes again, and yet other 
taxes — upon this free and independent pauper, but none upon his 
lord the baron or the bishop, none upon the wasteful nobility or the 
all-devouring Church; if the baron would sleep unvexed, the freeman 
must sitifp all night after his day's work and whip the ponds to keep 
the frogs quiet; if the freeman's daughter — but no, that last infamy of 
monarchical government is unprintable; and finally, if the freeman, 
grown desperate with his tortures, found his life unendurable under 
such conditions, and sacrificed it and fled to death for mercy and 
refuge, the gentle Church condemned him to eternal fire, the gentle 




■■X^\^S:-X-^ 



BURIAL OF A FREEMAN. 



FREEMEN ! 



157 



l.iw buried him at midnight at the cross-roads with a stake throug-h 
liis back, and his master the baron or the bishop confiscated all his 
property and turned his widow and his orphans out of doors. 

And here were these freemen assembled in the early morning to 
work on their lord the bishop's road three days each — gratis; every 
head of a family, and every son of a family, three days each, gratis, 
and a day or so added for their servants. Why, it was like reading 
about France and the French, before the ever-memorable and blessed 
Revolution, which swept a thousand years of such villany away in 
one sw ift tidal- wave of blood — one: a settlement of that h oary debt 
in thejjropo rtion of half a drop of blood for each jioL^shead of it that 
had been pressed by slow tortures out of that people in the weary 
stretch of ten centu ries ot \7!Trft^i^-^trn± zstrTrrrnr7im r miscr\^ the li ke of 
which was not to be ma ted but in h ell. There were two " Reigns of 
Terror," if we would but remember it and consider it; the one 
wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the 
one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the 
one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hun- 
dred millions; but our shudders are all for the " horrors " of the minor 
Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas. ^^^]kpKi^iJ:h^^or- 
y or of swift death by the ave, compared wn .th _life-long dea tlifrom hun- 
ger, cold, insult, cruelty a nd h e art-break.^ What is swift death by 
|li|^htning compared with death by slow fire at the stake.-* A city ceme- 
Itery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have 
been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over ; but all 
France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real 
Terror — that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us 
has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves. 

These poor ostensible freemen who were sharing their breakfast 
ind their talk with me, were as full fif humble reverence for their king 
ind Church and nobility as their worst enemy could desire. There 



158 FREEMEN! 

was something pitifully ludicrous about it. I asked them if they sup- 
posed a nation of people ever existed, who, with a free vote in every 
man's hand, would elect that a single family and its descendants 
should reign over it forever, whether gifted or boobies, to the exclu- 
sion of all other families — including the voter's; and would also elect 
that a certain hundred families should be raised to dizzy summits of 
rank, and clothed-on with offensive transmissible glories and privi- 
leges to the exclusion of the rest of the nation's families — i)ichiding 
his oivn. 

They all looked unhit, and said they didn't know; that they had 
never thought about it before, and it hadn't ever occurred to them 
that a nation could be so situated that every man could have a say in 
the government. I said I had seen one— and that it would last until 
it had an Established Church. Again they were all unhit — at first. 
But presently one man looked up and asked me to state that propo- 
sition again; and state it slowly, so it could soak into his understand- 
ing. I did it; and after a little he had the idea, and he brought his 
fist down and said Jic didn't believe a nation where every man had a 
vote would voluntarily get down in the mud and dirt in any such wa\-; 
and that to st??kLfrom a nation its will and preference must be a crime 
and the first of all crimes. 

I said to myself: 

"This one's a man. If I were backed by enough of his sort. I 
would make a strike for the welfare of this country, and try to prove 
myself its loyalest citizen by making a wholesome change in its sys- 
tem of government." 

You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its 
institutions or its office-holders. The country is the real thing, the sub- 
stantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care 
for, and be loyal to ; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere cloth- 
ing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfor- 



FREEMEN! 



^V^ 



159 



table, cease to protect the body 
To be loyal to rags, to shout 
for rags — that is a loyalty of 
belongs to monarchy, was in- 
archy keep it. I was from Con- 
declares "that all political 



from winter, disease, and death, 
for rags, to worship rags, to die 
unreason, it is pure animal; it 
vented by monarchy; let mon- 
necticut, whose Constitution 
power is inherent in the peo- 




" TWO OF A KIND." 

pie, and all free governments 
are founded on their authority 
and instituted for their bene- 
fit; and that they have at 
all tii>ics an undeniable and 
indefeasible right to alter 
tlicir foi'iit of government 
in such a m a n n e r as 
they m ay think ex- 
pedient." 

Under that gos- 
pel, the citizen who 
thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, 
and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is dis- 
loyal; he is a traitor. That he may be the only one who thinks he 
sees this decay, does not excuse him; it is his duty to agitate any 
way, and it is the duty of the others to vote him down if they do not 
see the matter as he does. 

And now here I was, in a country where a right to say how the 
countr}' should be governed was restricted to six persons in each 
thousand of its population. For the nine hundred and ninety-four 
to express dissatisfaction with the regnant system and propose to 




1 6o FREEMEN! 

chanm' it, would ha\'c made the whole six .sluidder as one man, it 
Would have been so disloyal, so dishonorable, such putrid black trea- 
son. So to speak, 1 was become a stockholder in a corporation where 
nine hundred and ninet)'-four of the meml^ers furnished all tin- money 
and did all the work, and the other six elected themselves a perma- 
nent board of direction and took all the dividends. It seemed to me 
that what the nine hundred and ninety-four dupes needed was a new 
deal. The thiny; that would have best suited the circus side of my 
nature would have been to resign the Boss-ship and g-et up an insurrec- 
tion and turn it into a revolution; but I knew that the Jack Cade or 
the Wat T}'ler who tries such a thing without first educating his mate- 
rials up to re\olution-grade is almost absolutely certain to get left. 1 
had never been accustomed to getting left, even if I do say it mj-self. 
Wherefore, the "deal" which had been for some time ^\•orking into 
shape in my mind was of a quite different pattern from the Cade-T)'ler 
•sort. 

So I did not talk blood and insurrection to that man there who sat 
munching black bread with that abused and mistaught herd of human 
sheep, but took him aside and talked matter of another sort to him. 
After I had finished, I got him to lend me a little ink from his veins; 
and with this and a sliver I wrote on a piece of bark — 

Put Jtim in the Man-Factory — 
and gave it to him, and said — 

" Take it to the palace at Camelot and give it into the hands of 
Amyas le Poulet, whom I call Clarence, and he will understand." 

" He is a priest, then," said the man, and some of the enthusiasm 
went out of his face. 

" How — a priest.-* Didn't I tell }-ou that no chattel of the Church, 
no bond-slave of pope or bishop can enter my Man-Factory.-* Didn't 
I tell you that j'^;?/ couldn't enter unless your religion, whatever it might 
be, was your own free property.-* " 



FREEMEN! I 6 I 

" Marr)', it is so, and for tliat I was i^lad; wherefore it liked me not, 
and bred in me a cold doubt, to hear of this priest being there." 

" But he isn't a priest, I tell you." 

The man looked far from satisfied. He said: 

" He is not a priest, and yet can read.^ " 

" He is not a priest and yet can read — yes, and write, too, for that 
matter. I taught him myself." The man's face cleared. " And it is 
the first thing that you yourself will be taught in that Factory — " 

"I.' I would give blood out of my heart to know that art. Why, 
I will be your slave, your — " 

" No you won't, you won't be anybody's slave. Take your family 
and go along. Your lord the bishop will confiscate your small prop- 
erty, but no matter, Clarence will fix you all right." 




,'> 



CHAPTER XIV. 



^^^^ " DEFEND THEE, LORD ! " 

PAID three pennies for my breakfast, and a most 
extravagant price it was, too, seeing that one 
could have breakfasted a dozen persons for that 
money; but I was feeling good by this time, and 
I had alwaj's been a kind of spendthrift any 
way; and then these people had wanted to 
give me the food for nothing, scant as their 
provision was, and so it was a grateful pleas- 
ure to emphasize my appreciation and 
sincere thankfulness with a good big 
financial lift where the money would do 
so much more good than it would in my 
helmet, where, these pennies being made 
of iron and not stinted in weight, my 
half dollar's worth was a good deal of 
a burden to me. I spent money rather 
too freely in those days, it is true; but 
one reason for it was that I hadn't got 
the proportions of things entirely adjusted, 
even yet, after so long a sojourn in Britain — 
hadn't got along to where I was able to ab- 
solutely realize that a penny in Arthur's 
land and a couple of dollars in Connecticut 
were about one and the same thing: just twins, as you may say, in 

purchasing power. If my start from Camelot could have been delayed 

165 




1 66 



''DEFF.XD THKR, l.OKD!" 



a vei')' few da}s 1 could have paid these people in beautiful new coins 
from our ow n mint, and that would have pleased me; and them, too, 
not less. 1 had adopted the American values exclusively. In a week 
or two now, cents, nickels, dimes, quarters and half dollars, and also 
a trifle of t^old, would be trickling in thin but steady streams all 
through the commercial veins of the kingdom, and I looked to see 
this new blood freshen up its life. 

The farmers were bound to throw in something, to sort of offset my 
liberality, whether I would or no; so I let them give me a flint and 
steel; and as soon as they had comfortably bestowed Sandy and me 
on our horse, I lit my pipe. \Mien the first blast of smoke shot out 
through the bars of ni}- helmet, all those people broke for the woods, 
and Sand)' went o\'er backwards and struck the ground with a dull 
thud. They thought I A\as one of those fire-belching dragons they 
had heard so much about from knights and other professional liars. I 
had infinite trouble to persuade those people to venture back within 
explaining distance. Then I told them that; this \\as only a bit of 
enchantment which would work harm to none but my enemies. And 
I promised, with my hand on my heart, that if all who felt no enmity 

toward me would 
come f o r w a r d and 
pass before me they 
should see that only 
those who remained 
behind would be 
struck dead. The 
procession moved 
with a good deal of 
promptness. There 
were no casualties 
to report, for no- 




EFFECT OF THE PIPE ON THE FREEMEN. 



'DEFEND THEE, LORD!" 



167 



body had curiosity enough to remain behind to sec what would 
happen. 

I lost some time, now, for these big children, their fears gone, 
became so ravished with wonder over my awe-compelling fireworks 
that I had to stay there and smoke a couple of pipes out before they 
would let me go. Still the delay was not wholly unproductive, for it 
took all that time to get Sandy thoroughly wonted to the new thing, 
she being so close to it, you know. It plugged up her conversation- 
mill, too, for a considerable while, and that was a gain. But above all 
other benefits accruing, I had learned something. I was ready for any 
giant or any ogre that might come along, now. 

We tarried with a holy hermit, that night, and my opportunity 
came about the middle of the next afternoon. We were crossing a 
vast meadow by way of short-cut, and I was musing absently, hearing 
nothing, seeing nothing, when Sandy suddenly interrupted a remark 
which she had begun that morning, with the cry — 
" Defend thee, lord! — peril 
And she slipped down 
ran a little way 

up and 

saw, far off 

in the shade of (_ 

a tree, half a dozen 

armed knights and their 

squires; and straightway 

there was bustle among 

them and tightening of sad- 
dle-girths for the mount. 
My pipe was ready and 
would have been lit, if I 
had not been lost in 




of life is toward ! " 
from the horse and 
and stood. I looked 




EFFECT OF THE PIPE ON SAN'DY. 



i68 



"DEFE.Vn ■JI/EE, I.OKD!" 



thinking- about how to banish oppression from this land and restore to 
all its people their stolen ri-^hts and manhood without disoblit,nn£,r 
anybod)-. 1 lit up at once, ami b)- the time I had t,fot a ^ood head of 
reserved steam on. here tlie> came. All t(\i,'ether, too; none of those 
chivalrous mai^nanimities which one reads so much about — one courtly 
rascal at a time, and the rest standing;- b\' to see fair play. No, they 
came in a bod}-, the>- came with a whirr and a rush, the)- came like a 
voile}- from a batter}-; came with heads low down, plumes streaming- 
out behind, lances advanced at a level. 
It was a handsome sight, a beautiful 
sight — for a man up a tree. I laid my 
lance in rest and waited, with my heart 
beating, till the iron \\ave was just 
read}' to break over me, then spouted 
a column of white smoke^ through the 
bars of ni}- helmet. You should have 
seen the wa\'e go to pieces and scat- 
ter! This was a finer sight than the 
other one. 

But these people stopped, two or 
three hundred yards away, and this 

"DEFEND THEE, lord!— PERIL OF LIFE troubled 1116. My satisfectiott coi- 
ls toward!" 

lapsed, and fear came; I judged I was 

a lost man. But Sandy was radiant; and was going to be elo- 
quent, but I stopped her, and told her my magic had miscarried, some- 
how or other, and she must mount, with all dispatch, and we must ride 
for life. No, she wouldn't. She said that m}- enchantment had dis- 
abled those knights; the}- were not riding on, because they couldn't; 
wait, they would drop out of their saddles presently, and we would 
get their horses and harness. I could not deceive such trusting sim- 
plicity, so I said it was a mistake; that when m}- fireworks killed at all. 





TUEY CAME IN A BODY, THEY CAME Wnil A WHIRR." 
169 



I 70 



''DEFEXn THEE, LORD!" 



the)' killed instantl)'; no, the men would not die, there was something 
wrong about my apparatus, I couldn't tell what; but we must hurry 
and get away, for those people would attack us again, in a minute. 
Sand)- laughed, and said— 

'• Lack-a-day, sir, the>- be not of that breed! Sir Launcelot will 
give battle to dragons, and will abide by them, and will assail them 
again, and yet again, and still again, until he do conquer and destroy 
them; and so likewise will Sir Pellinore and Sir Aglovale and Sir 
Carados, and nia)'hap others, but there be none else that will venture 
it, let the idle say what the idle will. And, la, as to yonder base ruf- 
flers, think ye they have not their fill, but yet desire more.'" 

" Well, then, what are they waiting, for .-* Why don't they leave .-' 
Nobody's hindering. Good land, I'm willing to let bygones be by- 
gones, I'm sure." 

" Leave, is it.-* Oh, give th\-self easement as to that. They dream 
not of it, no, not they. They wait to yield them." 

" Come — really, is that ' sooth' — as }'Ou people say.'^ If they want 
to, why don't they.''" 

" It would like them much; but an ye wot how dragons are es- 
teemed, ye would not hold them blamable. They fear to come." 

" Well, then, suppose I go to them instead, and " 

" Ah, wit ye well they would not abide your coming. I will go." 

And she did. She was a hand}' person to have along on a raid. I 
would have considered this a doubtful errand, myself. I presently 
saw the knights riding away, and Sandy coming back. That was a 
relief. I judged she had somehow failed to get the first innings — I 
mean in the conversation; otherwise the inter\iew wouldn't have been 
so short. But it turned out that she had managed the business well; 
in fact admirably. She said that when she told those people I was 
The Boss, it hit them where they lived: "smote them sore with fear 
and dread " was her word; and then they were ready to put up with 



''DEFEND THEE, LORD!" I7I 

anything she might require. So she swore them to appear at Arthur's 
court within two days and yield them, with horse and harness, and be 
my knights henceforth, and subject to my command. How much bet- 
ter she managed that thing than I should have done it myself! She 
was a daisy. 



I 



CHAPTER XV. 



SANDY S TALE. 







ND so I'm proprietor of some knights," said 
I, as we rode off. "Who would ever 
have supposed that I should live to list 
up assets of that sort. I shan't know 
what to do with them ; unless I raffle 
them off How many of them are there, 
Sandy.''" 

"Seven, please you, sir, and their 



a good 



squires. 

"It is 
haul. Who are 
they ? Where do 
they hang out.-*" 

"Where do they 
hang out ? " 

" Yes, where do 
they live ? " 

"Ah, I under- 
stood thee not. 
That will I tell thee 
^r—-^"^^^ eftsoons." Then she 
said musingly, and softly, turning the words daintily over her tongue : 
" Hang they out — hang they out — where hang — where do they hang 

out; eh, right so; where do they hang out. Of a truth the phrase hath 

175 



176 sajvdv's tale. 

a fair and winsome grace, and is prettily worded withal. I will repeat 
it anon and anon in mine idlesse, whereby I may peradventure learn 
it. Where do they hang out. I'^ven so ! already it fallcth trippingly 
from my tongue, and forasmuch as — " 

"Don't forget the cow-bo>\s, Sandy." 

"Cow-boys.^ " , 

"Yes; the knights, )-ou know: You were going to tell me about \ 
them. A while back, you remember, b^iguratively speaking, game's 
called." 

"Game — " 

"Yes, yes, yes! Go to the bat. I mean, get to work on your 
statistics, and don't burn so much kindling getting your fire started. 
Tell me about the knights." 

" I will well, and lightly \\\\\ begin. So they two departed and 
rode into a great forest. And — "' 

"Great Scott !" 

You see, I recognized my mistake at once. I had set her works 
agoing; it was my own fault; she would be thirty days getting down 
to those facts. And she generally began without a preface and finish- 
ed without a result. If you interrupted her she would either go right 
along without noticing, or answer with a couple of words, and go back 
and say the sentence over again. So, interruptions only did harm; 
and yet I had to interrupt, and interrupt pretty frequently, too, in 
order to save my life; a person would die if he let her monotony drip 
on him right along all day. 

"Great Scott!" I said in my distress. She went right back and 
began over again : 

"So they two departed and rode into a great forest. And " 

" Which two.?" 

"Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine. And so they came to an abbey of 
monks, and there were well lodged. So on the morn they heard their 



SAJVDV'S TALE. 



^77 



masses in the abbey, and so they rode forth till they came to a great 
forest; then was Sir Gawaine ware in a valley by a turret, of twelve 
fair damsels, and two knights armed on great horses, and the damsels 



tree. And then was Sir Ga- 
hung- a white shield on that 
damsels came by it they spit 
mire upon the shield — " 

seen the like myself in this 
n't believe it. But I've seen 
those creatures now, parad- 



went to and fro by a 
waine ware how there 
tree, and ever as the 
upon it, and some threw 

" Now, if I hadn't 
country, Sandy, I would- 
it, and I can just see 
ing before that shield and 
acting like that. The 
women here do certainly 
act like all possessed. Yes, 
and I mean your best, too, 
society's very choicest 
brands. The humblest hello- 
girl along ten thousand miles 
of wire could teach gentle- 
ness, patience, modesty, 
manners, to the highest 
duchess in Arthur's land." 

" Hello-girl .''" 

"Yes, but don't you ask 
me to explain ; it's a new 
kind of girl; they don't have 
them here; one often speaks 
sharply to them when they are not the least in fault, and he can't get over 
feeling sorry for it and ashamed of himself in thirteen hundred years, 
it's such shabby mean conduct and so unprovoked; the fact is, no gen- 
tleman ever does it — though I — well, I myself, if I've got to confess — " 




SIR CAWAINE AND SIR UWAINK. 



178 S.ljVy^y'S TALE. 

"Perad venture she — " 

"Never mind her; never mind her; I tell you I couldn't ever ex- 
plain her so you would understand." 

"Even so be it, sith ye are so minded. Then Sir Gawaine and Sir 
Uwaine went and saluted them, and asked them why they did that 
despite to the shield. Sirs, said the damsels, we shall tell you. There 
is a knight in this country that owneth this white shield, and he is a 
passing good man of his hands, but he hateth all ladies and gentle- 
women, and therefore we do all this despite to the shield. I will say 
you, said Sir Gawaine, it beseemeth evil a good knight to despise all 
ladies and gentlewomen, and peradventure though he hate you he hath 
some cause, and peradventure he loveth in some other places ladies 
and gentlewomen, and to be loved again, and he such a man of prowess 
as ye speak of — " 

"Man of prowess — yes, that is the man to please them, Sandy. 
Man of brains — that is a thing they never think of. Tom Sayers — 
John Heenan — John L. Sullivan — pity but you could be here. You 
would have your legs under the Round Table and a "Sir" in front of 
your names w^ithin the twenty-four hours; and you could bring about 
a new distribution of the married princesses and duchesses of the Court 
in another twenty-four. The fact is, it is just a sort of polished-up 
court of Comanches, and there isn't a squaw in it who doesn't stand 
ready at the dropping of a hat to desert to the buck with the biggest 
string of scalps at his belt." 

" and he be such a man of prowess as ye speak of, said Sir 

Gawaine. Now what is his name } Sir, said they, his name is Mar- 
haus the king's son of Ireland." 

"Son of the king of Ireland, you mean; the other form doesn't : 
mean anything. And look out and hold on tight, now, we must jump 
this gully. . . . There, we are all right now. This horse belongs in \ 
the circus; he is born before his time." 



SANDY'S TALE. 



179 



I V know him well, said Sir Uwaine, he is a passing g-oocl 
ht \ as any is on live." 

Oil \ live. If }'oirvc got a fault in the world, Sand}', it is 
that you ^ are a shade too archaic. But it isn't any matter." 

saw him once proved at a justs where many knights 
ered, and that time there might no man withstand 

Sir Gawaine, dam- 




"— for I 
were gath 
him. Ah, said 
scls, methink- 
for it is to sup- 
that shield there 
therefrom, and then 
match him on horse- 
more your worship 
abide no longer to see 
dishonored. And 
U \v a i n e and Sir 
a little from them, 
they ware where Sir 
came riding on a 
straight toward them. 
the twelve damsels 
Alar ha us they fled 
ret as they were 
:^ome of them fell by 
one of the knights of 
shield, and said on hig 
haus defend thee. And 
together that the knig 
spear on Marhaus, and 
smote him so hard th 
his neck and the horse's back — 



eth ye are to blame, 

pose he that hung 

will not be long 

ose knights 

and that is 

us; for I will 

ht's shield 

^v i t h Sir 

aine departed 

then were 

Marhaus 

great horse 

And when 

saw Sir 

into the tur- 

wild, so that 

Then the 

dressed his 



LOOK OUT AND HULL) ON TIGHT!" 



I So SJA'DV'S TALE. 

"Well, that is just the trouble about this state of thiivj^s, it ruins so 
man)' horses." 

"That saw the other knit^ht of the turret, and dressed him toward 
Marhaus, and they went so eiij^erly toi^ether, that the knight of the 
turret wa3 soon smitten down, horse and man, stark dead — " 

''Another horse gone; I tell you it is a custom that ought to be 
broken up. I don't see how people with any feeling can applaud and 
support it." ' 

-X- * * -X- * -!f * 4f * 

"So these two knights came together with great random — " 

I saw that I had been asleep and missed a chapter, but I didn't say 
anything. I judged that the Irish knight was in trouble with the vis- 
itors by this time, and this turned out to be the case. 

" — that Sir Uwaine smote Sir Marhaus that his spear brast in 
pieces on the shield, and Sir Marhaus smote him so sore that horse 
and man he bare to the earth, and hurt Sir Uwaine on the left side — " 

"The truth is, Alisande, these archaics are a little too simple; the J 
vocabulary is too limited, and so, by consequence, descriptions suffer 
in the matter of variety; they run too much to level Saharas of fact, 
and not enough to picturesque detail; this throws about them a cer- 
tain air of the monotonous; in fact the fights are all alike: a couple of 
people come together with great random — random is a good word, and 
so is exegesis, for that matter, and so is holocaust, and defalcation, 
and usufruct and a hundred others, but land ! a body ought to dis- 
criminate — they come together with great random, and a spear is 
brast, and one party brake his shield and the other one goes down, 
horse and man, over his horse-tail and brake his neck, and then the 
next candidate comes randoming in, and brast his spear, and the other 
man brast his shield, and down he goes, horse and man, over his horse- 
tail, and brake his neck, and then there's another elected, and another 
and another and still another, till the material is all used up ; and 



SA.VDV'S TALE. 



l8l 



w hen you come to figure up results, )'ou can't tell one fight fi-om 

another, nor who whipped; and as Ti, picture, of living, raging, roaring 

i i.ittle, sho ! why, its pale and noise- 

K'ss — just ghosts scuffling in a fog. 

I )ear me, what would this barren 

\ ocabulary get out of the mightiest 

spectacle ? — the burning of Rome in 

Xero's time, for instance ? Why, it 

\\ (udd merely say, 'Town burned 

down; no insurance; boy brast a 

window, fireman brake his neck!' 

Why, that ain't a picture ! " 

It was a good deal of a lecture, 

I thought, but it didn't disturb 
Sandy, didn't turn a feather; her 

icam soared steadily up again, the 
minute I took off the lid : 

"Then Sir Marhaus turned his 
horse and rode toward Gawaine with 

I I is spear. And when Sir Gawaine 
-aw that, he dressed his shield, and 
they aventred their spears, and they 

nne together with all the might 

f their horses, that either knight 

-mote other so hard in the midst 

if their shields, but Sir Gawaine's 

^Ijcar brake — " 

" 1 knew it would." 

, MARHAUS, SON OF THE KING OF IRELAND, 

— "but Sir Marhaus s spear held; krom an effigy kcjund in the castle, 
and therewith Sir Gawaine and his horse rushed down to the earth — " 
"Just so — and brake his back." 




l82 SANDY'S J' ALE. 

— " and lightly Sir Gawainc rose upon his feet and pulled out his 
sword, and dressed him toward Sir Marhaus on foot, and therewith 
either came unto other eagerly, and smote together with their swords, 
that their shields flew in cantels, and they bruised their helms and their 
hauberks, and wounded either other. But Sir Gawaine, fro it passed 
nine of the clock, waxed by the space of three hours ever stronger and 
stronger, and thrice his might was increased. All this espied Sir Mar- 
haus, and had great wonder how his might increased, and so they 
wounded other passing sore; and then when it was come noon — " 

The pelting sing-song of it carried me forward to scenes and sounds 
of my bo}-hood days: 

" N-e-e-ew Haven! ten minutes for refreshments — knductr "11 
strike the gong-bell two minutes before train leaves — passengers for 
the Shore-line please take seats in the rear k'yar, this k'yar don't go 
no furder — akh-^\s, azv-n\]z, \y nannQrs, s-a-n-d 'ches, p ^/-corn ! " 

— ' ' and waxed past noon and drew towards evensong. Sir Gawaine's 
strength feebled and waxed passing faint, that unnethes he might 
dure any longer, and Sir Marhaus was then bigger and bigger — " 

"Which strained his armor, of course; and yet little would one of 
these people mind a small thing like that." 

— " and so, Sir Knight, said Sir Marhaus, I have well felt that ye 
are a passing good knight, and a marvelous man of might as ever I 
felt any, while it lasteth, and our quarrels are not great, and therefore 
it were a pity to do you hurt, for I feel you are passing feeble. Ah, 
said Sir Gawaine, gentle knight, ye say the word that I should say. 
And therewith they took off their helms and either kissed other, and 
there they swore together either to love other as brethren — " 

But I lost the thread there, and dozed off to slumber, thinking about 
what a pity it was that men with such superb strength — strength 
enabling them to stand up cased in cruelly burdensome iron and 
drenched with perspiration, and hack and batter and bang each other 



SANDY'S TALE. I 83 

for six hours on a stretch — shoukl not have been born at a time when 
they could put it to some useful purpose. Take a jackass, for instance: 
a jackass has that kind of streni^th, and puts it to a useful purpose, 
and is valuable to this world because he is a jackass; but a nobleman 
is not valuable because he is a jackass. It is a mixture that is always 
ineffectual, and should never have been attempted in the first place. 
.Vnd yet, once you start a mistake, the trouble is done and you never 
know what is going to come of it. 

When I came to myself again and began to listen, I perceived that 
I had lost another chapter, and that Alisande had wandered a long 
way off with her people. 

" And so they rode and came into a deep valley full of stones, and 
thereby they saw a fair stream of water; above thereby was the head 
of the stream, a fair fountain, and three damsels sitting thereby. In 
tliis country, said Sir Marhaus, came never knight since it was chris- 
tened, but he found strange adventures — " 

" This is not good form, Alisande. Sir Marhaus the king's son 
of Ireland talks like all the rest; you ought to give him a brogue, or 
at least a characteristic expletive; by this means one would recognize 
him as soon as he spoke, without his ever being named. It is a com- 
mon literary device with the great authors. You should make him 
-■ay, ' In this country, be jabers. came never knight since it was chris- 
tened, but he found strange adventures, be jabers.' You see how much 
better that sounds." 

— " came never knight but he found strange adventures, be jabers. 
'-,'f a truth it doth indeed, fair lord, albeit 'tis passing hard to say, 
though peradventure that will not tarry but better speed with usage. 
Vnd then they rode to the damsels, and either saluted other, and the 
elaest had a garland of gold about her head, and she was threescore 
winter of age or more — " 

" The damsel was .-' " 



184 SAA'DV'S TALE. 

" Even SO, dear lord — and her hair was white under the garland — " 

" Celluloid teeth, nine dollars a set, as like as not — the loose-fit 
kind, that ^o up and down like a portcullis when you eat, and fall out 
when you laugh." 

" The second damsel was of thirty winter of age, with a circlet of 
gold about her head. The third damsel was but fifteen year of age — " 

l^illows of thought came rolling over my soul, and the voice faded 
out of m}' hearing ! 

Fifteen ! Break — my heart ! oh, my lost darling ! Just her age 
who was so gentle, and lovely, and all the world to me, and whom I 
shall never see again ! How the thought of her carries me back over 
wide seas of memory to a vague dim time, a happy time, so many, 
many centuries hence, when I used to wake in the soft summer 
mornings, out of sweet dreams of her, and say " Hello, Central ! " 
just to hear her dear voice come melting back to me with a " Hello, 
Hank ! " that was music of the spheres to my enchanted ear. She got 
three dollars a week, but she was worth it." 

I could not follow Alisande's further explanation of who our cap- 
tured knights were, now — I mean in case she should ever get to 
explaining who they were. My interest was gone, my thoughts were! 
far away, and sad. By fitful glimpses of the drifting tale, caught 
here and there and now and then, I merely noted in a \'ague way ; 
that each of these three knights took one of these three damsels 
up behind him on his horse, and one rode north, another east, the 
other south, to seek adventures, and meet again and lie, after year and 
day. Year and day — and without baggage. It was of a piece with 
the general simplicity of the country. 

The sun was now setting. It was about three in the afternoon when 
Alisande had begun to tell me who the cow-boys were; so she had 
made pretty good progress with it — for her. She would arrive some 
time or other, no doubt, but she w^as not a person who could be hurried 



HANDY'S TALE. 



185 



We were approachintr a castle which stood on high ground; a huge, 
>tr()ng, venerable structure, whose gray towers and battlements were 
charmingly draped with ivy, and whose whole majestic mass was 




" IT WAS THE LARGEST CASTLE WE HAD SEEN." 

drenched with splendors flung from the sinking sun. It was the larg- 
est castle we had seen, and so I thought it might be the one we were 
after, but Sandy said no. She did not know who owned it; she said 
she had passed it without calling, when she went down to Camelot. 







^^ ^* 1^^=^ 




CHAPTER XVI. 



MORGAN LE FAY 



F knights errant were to be believed, not all 
castles were desirable places to seek hospi- 
tality in. As a matter of fact, knights errant 
were not persons to be believed — that is, 
measured by modern standards of veracity; 
yet, measured by the standards of their 
own time, and scaled accordingly, you 
got the truth. It was very simple : you 
discounted a statement ninety-seven per- 
cent; the rest was fact. Now after mak- 
ing this allowance, the truth remained 
that if I could find out something about 
a castle before ringing the door-bell — I 
mean hailing the warders — it was the 
sensible thing to do. So I was 
pleased when I saw in the distance 
a horseman making the 
bottom turn of the road 
that wound down from 
this castle. 

As we approached 
each other, I saw that 
he wore a plumed hel- 
met, and seemed to be otherwise clothed in steel, but bore a curious 
addition- also — a stiff square garment like a herald's tabard. However, 



190 



MORGAN LE FA V. 



I had fo smile at my own forfjctfulness when I got nearer and read 
this sign on his tabard: 

" Pc}'sitiimo)is s Soap — All the Priiiic-Doniw Use It!' 



s: 



That was a Httlc idea of my own, and had several wholesome pur- 
poses in view toward the civilizing and uplifting of this nation. In the 
first place, it was a furtive, underhand blow at this nonsense of knight 
errantry, though nobody suspected that but me. I had started a num- 

6^ 




^"^^ 



"THIS WOULD UNDERMINE THE CHURCH." 



ber of these people out — the bravest knights I could get^^each sand- 
wiched between bulletin-boards bearing one device or another, and I 
judged that by and by when they got to be numerous enough they 
would begin to look ridiculous; and then, even the steel-clad ass that 
Jiadnt any board would himself begin to look ridiculous because he 
was out of the fashion. 

Secondly, these missionaries would gradually, and without creat- 



MORGAN LE FAY. I9I 

ing suspicion or exciting alarm, introduce a rudimentary cleanliness 
unong the nobility, and from them it would work down to the people, 
if the priests could be kept quiet. This would undermine the Church. 
I mean would be a step toward that. Next, education — next, free- 
dom — and then she would begin to crumble. It being my conviction___^ 
that any Established Church is an established crime, an established „^ 
slai^^en, I had no scruples, but was willing to assail it in any way or 
with any weapon that promised to iiurt it. Why, in my own former \^ 
day — in remote centuries not yet stirring in the womb of time — there / 
were old Englishmen who imagined that they had been born in a free / 
country: a " free" country with the Corporation Act and the Test still ) 
in force in it — timbers propped against men's liberties and dishonored j 
consciences to shore up an Established Anachronism with. ^ 

My missionaries were taught to spell out the gilt signs on their 
tabards — the showy gilding was a neat idea, I could have got the king 
to wear a bulletin-board for the sake of that barbaric splendor — they 
were to spell out these signs and then explain to the lords and ladies 
what soap was; and if the lords and ladies were afraid of it, get them 
to try it on a dog. The missionary's next move was to get the family 
together and try it on himself; he was to stop at no experiment, how- 
ever desperate, that could convince the nobility that soap was harm- 
less; if any final doubt remained, he must catch a hermit — the woods 
were full of them; saints they called themselves, and saints they were 
believed to be. They were unspeakably holy, and worked miracles, 
and everybody stood in awe of them. If a hermit could survive a 
wash, and that failed to convince a duke, give him up, let him alone. ^ 

Whenever my missionaries overcame a knight errant on the road 
they washed him, and when he got well they swore him to go and get 
a bulletin-board and disseminate soap and civilization the rest of his 
days. As a consequence the workers in the field were increasing by 
degrees, and the reform was steadily spreading. My soap factory felt 



192 



MORGAN LE FA V. 



the strain early. At first I had only- 
left home I was already employing 
day ; and the atmospheric result 
that the king went sort of 
and said he did not believe 
and Sir Launcelot got so that 
walk up and down the roof 
it was worse up there than 
wanted plenty of 
plaining that a 
factory, anyway, 
one in his house 
n't strangle him. 
ladies present, 
much these peo- 
cared for that ; 
swear before chil- 
wind was their 
the factory 
This mis- 
name was La 
and he said 
was the abode 
Fay, sister of 
and w i f e of 
monarch of a 
about as big- as 
trict 



? 




two hands ; but before I had 

fifteen, and running night and 

was getting so pronounced 

fainting and gasping around 

he could stand it much longer, 

he did hardly anything but 

and swear, although I told him 

anywhere else, but he said he 

air ; and he was always com- 

palace was no place for a soap 

and said if a man was to start 

he would be damned if he would- 

There were 

too, but 

pie ever 

they would 

dren, if the 

way when 

was going. 

sionary knight's 

Cote Male Taile, 

that this castle 

of Morgan le 

King Arthur, 

King Uriens, 

realm 

the Dis- 

C o 1 u m - 



SIR COTE MALE TAILE. 



MORGAN LE FAY. Ig3 

l)ia — you could stand in the middle of it and throw bricks into the 
next kingdom. "Kings" and "Kingdoms" were as thick in Britain 
as they had been in little Palestine in Joshua's time, when people had 
to sleep with their knees pulled up because the}' couldn't stretch out 
without a passport. 

La Cote was much depressed, for he had scored here the worst 
failure of his campaign. He had not worked off a cake; yet he had 
tried all the tricks of the trade, even to the washing of a hermit; but 
the hermit died. This was indeed a bad failure, for this animal would 
now be dubbed a martyr, and would take his place among the saints 
of the Roman calendar. Thus made he his moan, this poor Sir La 
Cote Male Taile, and sorrowed passing sore. And so my heart bled 
for him, and I was moved to comfort and stay him. Wherefore I 
said — 

" Forbear to grieve, fair knight, for this is not a defeat. We have 
brains, y^o u and _ I; an d for such as have brains there are no defeats, . 
but_ ^nlv victorie s. Observe how we will turn this seeming disaster 
into an advertisement; an advertisement for our soap; and the biggest 
one, to draw, that was ever thought of; an advertisement that will 
transform that Mount Washington defeat into a Matterhorn victory. 
We will put on your bulletin-board, ' Patronized by the Elect' How 
does that strike }'ou.'" 

" Verily, it is wonderly bethought!" 

" Well, a body is bound to admit that for just a modest little one- 
line ad., it's a corker." 

So the poor colporteur's griefs vanished away. He was a brave 
fellow, and had done mighty feats of arms in his time. His chief celeb- 
rity rested upon the events of an excursion like this one of mine, 
which he had once made with a damsel named Maledisant, who was 
as handy with her tongue as was Sandy, though in a different way, for 
her tongue churned forth only railings and insult, whereas Sandy's 



194 



MORGAX I.E FAY. 



•;■■ ^■- 






music was of a kindlier sort. I knew his story well, and 
so I knew how to interpret the compassion that was in 
his face when he bade me farewell. lie supposed 
I was having a bitter hard time of it 

Sandy and I discussed his story, as we rode 
along, and she said that La 
Cote's bad luck had begun 
with the very beginning of 
that trip ; for the king's fool 
had overthrown him on the 
first day, and in such 
cases it was custom- 
ary for the girl to de- 
sert to the conquer- 
or, but Maledisant 
didn't do it; and also 
persisted afterward 
in sticking to him, 
after all his defeats. 
But, said I, suppose 
the victor should de- 
cline to accept his 
spoil ? She said that 
that wouldn't answer 
— he must. He could- 
n't decline; it would- 
n't be regular. I 
made a note of 
that. If Sandy's 
music got to be 

too DUruen- "we were challenged by the warders. and after parley ADMn'TED.' 




MOJiGAJK' LE FA Y. I 95 

some, some time, I would let a knii^ht defeat me, on the chance that 
she would desert to him. 

In due time we were challenged by the warders, from the castle 
walls, and after a parley admitted. I have nothing pleasant to tell 
about that visit. But it was not a disappointment, for I knew Mrs. le 
Fay by reputation, and was not expecting anything pleasant. She 
was held in awe by the whole realm, for she had made everybody 
believe she was a great sorceress. All her ways were wicked, all her 
instincts devilish. She was loaded to the eye-lids with cold malice. 
All her history was black with crime; and among her crimes murder 
was common. I was most curious to see her; as curious as I could 
have been to see Satan. To my surprise she was beautiful; black 
thoughts had failed to make her expression repulsive, age had failed 
to wrinkle her satin skin or mar its bloomy freshness. She could have 
passed for old Uriens's grand-daughter, she could have been mistaken 
for sister to her own son. 

As soon as we were fairly within the castle gates we were ordered 
into her presence. King Uriens was there, a kind-faced old man with 
a subdued look; and also the son. Sir Uwaine le Blanchemains, in 
whom I was of course interested on account of the tradition that he 
had once done battle with thirty knights, and also on account of his 
trip with Sir Gawaine and Sir Marhaus, which Sandy had been aging 
me with. But Morgan was the main attraction, the conspicuous per- 
sonality here; she was head chief of this household, that was plain. 
She caused us to be seated, and then she began, with all manner of 
pretty graces and graciousnesses, to ask me questions. Dear me, it 
was like a bird or a flute, or something, talking. I felt persuaded that 
this woman must have been misrepresented, lied about. She trilled 
along, and trilled along, and presently a handsome young page, 
clothed like the rainbow, and as easy and undulatory of movement as 
a wave, came with something on a golden salver, and kneeling to 



196 MORGAN LE FAY. 

present it to her, overtlid his graces and lost his balance, and so fell 
lightly against her knee. She _slippecl .1 tlirk into him in as matter-of- 
course a \va\' as anotlier j)e-r^on-woiild havelTarpnoned a rat ! 

Poor child, he slumped to the floor, twisted his silken limbs in one 
great straining contortion of pain, and was dead. Out of the old king 
was wrung an involuntary " 0-h ! " of compassion. The look he got, 
made him cut it suddenly short and not put an}- more hyphens in it. 
Sir Uwaine, at a sign from his mother, went to the ante-room and 
called some servants, and meanwhile madame went rippling sweetly 
along with her talk. 

I saw that she was a good housekeeper, for while she talked she 
kept a corner of her eye on the servants to see that they made no balks 
in handling the body and getting it out; when they came with fresh 
clean towels, she sent back for the other kind; and when they had 
finished wiping the floor and were going, she indicated a crimson fleck 
the size of a tear which their duller eyes had overlooked. It was plain 
to me that La Cote Male Taile had failed to see the mistress of the 
house. Often, how louder and clearer than any tongue, does dumb 
circumstantial evidence speak. 

/ Morgan le Fay rippled along as musically as ever. Marvelous 
woman. And what a glance she had: when it fell in reproof upon 
those servants, they shrunk and quailed as timid people do when the 
lightning flashes out of a cloud. I could have got the habit myself. 
It was the same with that poor old Brer Uriens; he was abvays on the 
\ ragged edge of apprehension; she could not even turn towards him 
but he winced. 

In the midst of the talk I let drop a complimentary word about 
King Arthur, forgetting for the moment how this woman hated her 
brother. That one little compliment was enough. She clouded up 
like a storm; she called for her guards, and said — 

" Hale me these varlets to the dungeons! " 



MORGAN LE FA V. 



197 



That struck cold on my ears, for her dungeons had a reputation. 
Nothing occurrctl to nie to say — or do. But not so with Sandy. As 
the guard laid a hand upon me, she piped up with the tranquilest con- 
fidence, and said — 

" God's wownds, dost thou covet destruction, thou maniac? It is 
The Boss! " 

Now what a happy idea that was ! — and so simple; yet it would 
never have occurred to me. I was born modest; not all over, but in 
spots; and this was one of the spots. 

The effect upon madame was electrical. It cleared her counte- 
nance and brought back her smiles and all her persuasive graces and 
blandishments; but nevertheless she was not able to entirely cover up 
with them the fact that she was in a ghastly fright. She said: 

" La, but do list to thine handmaid ! as if one gifted with powers 
I like to mine might say the thing which I have said unto one who has 
vanquished Merlin, and not be jesting. By mine enchantments I fore- 
saw your coming, and by them I knew you when you entered here. I 
did but play this little jest with hope to surprise you into some display 
of your art, as not doubting you would blast the guards with occult 
fires, consuming them to ashes on the spot, a marvel much beyond 
mine own ability, yet one which I have long been childishly curious 
to see." 

The guards were less curious, and got out as soon as they got per- 
mission. 




v(X 



.CN 






CHAPTER XVII. 



A ROYAL BANQUET. 

ADAME seeing me pacific and unrcscntful, no 
doubt judged that I was deceived by her ex- 
cuse ; for her fright dissolved away, and she 
w^as soon so importunate to have me give an 
exhibition and kill somebody, that the thing 
grew to be embarrassing. However, to my 
relief she was presently interrupted by the call 
to prayers. I will say this much for the nobility : that, 
tyrannical, murderous, rapacious and morally rotten as 
the^Mvere, they were deeply and enth usiastically relig ious. 
Not hing could div ert them from the regular and faithful 
performance_of_the_gieties enjoined by the Church. More 
than once I had seen a noble who had gotten his enemy 
at a'^disadvantage, stop to pray before cutting his throat; 
more than once I had seen a noble, after ambushing and 
dispatching his enemy, retire to the nearest wayside shrine 
and humbly give thanks, without even waiting to rob the 
body. There was to be nothing finer or sweeter in the 
life of even Benvenuto Cellini, that rough-hewn saint, ten 
centuries later. All the nobles of Britain, with their fam- 
ilies, attended divine service morning and night daily, in their private 
chapels, and even the worst of them had family worship five or six 
times a day besides. The credit of this belonged entirely to the 
Church. Although I was no friend to that Catholic Church, I was 




202 



A ROYAL BANQUET. 



oblif^cd to admit this. And often, in spite of me, I found mj'sclf sa\-inc^, 
"What would this country be without the Cliurch?" 

After pra)'ers we had dinner in a threat jjanqueting hall which was 
lighted b)' hundreds of grease-jets, and ever}-thing was as fine and 




ili^-^ 



"AFTER PRAYERS WE HAD DINNER. 



lavish and rudely splendid as might become the royal degree of the 
hosts. At the head of the hall, on a dais, was the table of the king, 
queen, and their son, Prince Uw^aine. Stretching down the hall from 
this, was the general table, on the floor. At this, above the salt, sat 



A ROYAL BANQUET. 



203 



the visiting nobles and the grown members of their famiHes, of both 
sexes, — the resident Court, in effect, — sixty-one persons; below the 
salt sat minor officers of the household, with their principal subordi- 
nates: altogether a hundred and eighteen persons sitting, and about as 
many liveried servants standing behind their chairs, or serving in one 




'•original agony." 

capacity or another. It was a very fine show. In a gallery a band 
with cymbals, horns, harps and other horrors, opened the proceedings 
with what seemed to be the crude first-draft or original agony of the 
wail known to later centuries as " In the Sweet Bye and Bye." It was 
new, and ought to have been rehearsed a little more. Fo£_some_rea2_ 
son or oth er the queen h adth e compose r hanged, after dinner. 



204 ^ KOVAL BAXQi-ET. 

After this music, the priest w ho stood behind the royal table said a 
noble lon<j^ <j^race in ostensible Latin. Then the battalion of waiters 
broke aw a>- from their posts, and darted, rushed, flew, fetched and car- 
ried, and the mighty feedin<^ beijan; no words anywhere, but absorb- 
in*^" attention to business. The rows of choi)s opened and shut in vast 
unison, and the sound of it was like to the muffled burr of subterranean 
machiner}'. 

The ha\oc continued an hour and a half, and unimaginable was the 
destruction of substantials. Of the chief feature of the feast — the huge 
wild boar that lay stretched out so portly and imposing at the start — 
nothing was left but the semblance of a hoop-skirt; and he was but 
the type and sj-mbol of what had happened to all the other dishes. 

With the pastries and so-on, the hea\y drinking began — and the 
talk. Gallon after gallon of wine and mead disappeared, and every- 
bod}' got comfortable, then happ)', then sparklingly joyous — both 
sexes, — and bye and b)'e pretty nois}-. Men told anecdotes that were 
terrific to hear, but nobod}' blushed; and when the nub was sprung, 
the assemblage let go with a horse-laugh that shook the fortress. 
Ladies answered back with historiettes that would almost ha\e made 
Queen Margaret of Navarre or even the great Elizabeth of England 
hide behind a handkerchief, but nobod\- hid here, but onl} laughed — 
howled, }'ou may say. In prett}' much all of these dreadful stories, 
ecclesiastics were the hardy heroes, but that didn't worry the chaplain 
any, he had his laugh with the rest; more than that, upon invitation 
he roared out a song which was of as daring a sort as an}' that was 
sung that night. 

By midnight everybody was fagged out, and sore with laughing; 
and as a rule, drunk: some weepingly, some affectionately, some hilar- 
iously, some quarrelsomel)', some dead and under the table. Of the 
ladies, the worst spectacle was a lo\'ely young duchess, whose wedding- 
eve this was; and indeed she was a spectacle, sure enough. Just as 



A ROYAL BAiV^UET. 2O5 

she was she coukl have sat in ad\'ance for the portrait of the young 
t laughter of the Regent d'Orleans, at the famous dinner whence she 
was carried, foul-mouthed, intoxicated and helpless, to her bed, in the 
lost and lamented days of the Ancient Regime. 

Suddenl}', even while the priest was lifting his hands, and all con- 
scious heads were bowed in reverent expectation of the coming bless- 
ing, there appeared under the arch of the far-off door at the bottom of 
the hall, an old and bent and white-haired lady, leaning upon a crutch- 
stick; and she lifted the stick and pointed it toward the queen and 
cried out — 

" The wrath and curse of God fall upon you, woman without pity, 
who have slain mine innocent grandchild and made desolate this old 
heart that had nor chick nor friend nor stay nor comfort in all this 
world but hini! " 

Everybody crossed himself in a grisly fright, for a curse was an 
awful thing to those people; but the queen rose up majestic, with the 
death-light in her eye, and flung back this ruthless command: 

" Lay hands on her! To the stake with her! " 

The guards left their posts to obey. It was a shame; it was a cruel 
thing to see. What could be done.^ Sandy gave me a look; I knew 
she had another inspiration. I said— 

" Do what you choose." 

She was up and facing toward the queen in a moment. She indi- 
cated me, and said: 

" Madame, he saith this may not be. Recal the commandment, or 
he will dissolve the castle and it shall vanish away like the instable 
fabric of a dream! " 

Confound it, w'hat a crazy contract to pledge a person to! What 
if the queen — 

Hut my consternation subsided there, and my panic passed off; for 
the queen, all in a collapse, made no show of resistance but gave a 



206 



A ROYAI. BAXQUET. 



countcrmandinc^ sig^n and sunk into her seat. When she reached it 
she was sober. So were man\- of the others. The assemblage rose, 
whifled ceremoii)' to the w iiuls, and rushed for the door like a mob; 
overturning chairs, smasliing crockery, tugging, struggHng, shoulder- 
ing, crowding — an\thing to get out before 1 should change my mind 
and puff the castle into the measureless dim xacancies of space. Well, 
well, well, the)' ar/r a superstitious lot. It is all a body can do to 
conceixe of it. 

The poor queen was so scared and humbled that she was even 
afraid to hang the composer without first consulting me. I was very 
sorry for her — indeed any one would have been, for she was really suf- 
fering; so I was willing to do anx'thi ng that was reasonable, and had 
no desire to carry things to wanton extremities. I therefore consid- 
ered the matter thoughtfull}-, and ended by having the musicians 
ordered into our presence to pla}- that Sweet Bye and Bye again, which 
they did. Then I saw that she was right, and gave her permission to 
hanc the whole band. This little relaxation of sternness had a sfood 



cis e of iron-clad aut hority upon all occas ions that offer, for thi s wound s 
tlie iust pride of his subo rdinat es, aj^d fhns tends to underm ine his 
s trenp rth. A litt le concession, n ow and then, where it can do no harm, 
is the wiser policy. 

Now^hat die q ueen was at ease in her mind once more, and 
measurably happy, her wine naturally began to assert itself again, and 
it got a little the start of her. I mean it set her music going — her 
siK^er bell of a tongue. Dear me, she was a master talker. It would 
not become me to suggest that it w^as pretty late and that I was a tired 
man and very sleepy. I wished I had gone off to bed when I had the 
chance. Now I must stick it out; there was no other way. So she 
tinkled along and along, in the otherwise profound and ghostly hush 
of the sleeping castle, until bye and b}-e there came, as if from deep 



A jROYAL BANQUET. 2O7 

down under us, a far-away sound, as of a muffled shriek — with an 
expression of agony about it that made my flesh crawl. The queen 
stopped, and her eyes Hghted with pleasure; she tilted her graceful 
head as a bird does when it listens. The sound bored its way up 
through the stillness again. 

" What is it .? " I said. 

" It is truly a stubborn soul, and endureth long. It is many hours 
now." 

" Endureth what .-' " 

" The rack. Come — ye shall see a blithe sight. An he yield not 
his secret now, ye shall see him torn asunder." 

What a silky smooth hellion she was; and so composed and serene, 
when the cords all down my legs were hurting in sympathy with that 
man's pain. Conducted by m.ailed guards bearing flaring torches, we 
tramped along echoing corridors, and down stone stairways dank and 
dripping, and smelling of mould and ages of imprisoned night — a chill, 
uncanny journey and a long one, and not made the shorter or the 
cheerier by the sorceress's talk, which was about this sufferer and his 
crime. He had been accused by an anonymous informer, of having 
killed a stag in the royal preserves. I said — 

" Anonymous testimony isn't just the right thing, your Highness. 
It were fairer to confront the accused with the accuser.". 

" I had not thought of that, it being but of small consequence. But 
an I would, I could not, for that the accuser came masked by night, 
and told the forester, and straightway got him hence again, and so the 
forester knoweth him not. 

** Then is this Unknown the only person who saw the stag killed .' " 

" Marry, no man sazv the killing, but this Unknown saw this hardy 
wretch near to the spot where the stag lay, and came with right loyal 
zeal and betrayed him to the forester." 

" So the Unknown was near the dead stag, too } Isn't it just pos- 



208 



A ROYAL BANQUET. 



sible that he did the killin<^ himself? His loyal 'V 
mask — looks just a shade suspicious. But what is I 
ness's idea for racking the prisoner ? Where is 
" He will not confess, else; and then were his 
his crime his life is forfeited b}' the law — and of 
I see that he payeth it ! — but it were 
peril to my own soul to let him die un- 
confessed and unabsolved. Nay, I were 
a fool to fling me into hell for 

his accommo- 1\ dation." 



zeal — in a 
your High- 
the profit?" 
soul lost. For 
a surety will 




I CAUGHT A PICTURE THAT WILL NOT GO FROM MK. 



A ROYAL BANQUET. 2O9 

" But, your Highness, suppose he has nothing to confess?" 

" As to that, \vc shall sec, anon. An I rack him to death and he 
confess not, it will peradventure show that he had indeed naught to 
confess — ye will grant that that is sooth? Then shall I not be damned 
for an unconfessed man that had naught to confess — wherefore, I 
shall be safe." 

It was the stubborn unreasoning of the time. It was useless to 
argue with her. Arguments have no chance against petrified training; 
they ^^r^■^y \t^^j\^2}j: :»'^ <-l-i>' ;^£nvf^^vpnr a cliff And her tr a ining w as 
everybod y's. The brighte st intellect in the land w ould not have been 
able to see t hat her positio nl ^as d efective^ 

As we entered the rack-cell I caught a picture that will not go from 
me ; I wish it would. A native young giant of thirty or thereabouts, 
lay stretched upon the frame on his back, with his wrists and ancles 
tied to ropes which led over windlasses at either end. There was no 
color in him; his features were contorted and set, and sweat-drops 
stood upon his forehead. A priest bent over him on each side; the 
executioner stood by; guards were on duty; smoking torches stood in 
sockets along the walls; in a corner crouched a poor young creature, 
her face drawn with anguish, a half-wild and hunted look in her eyes, 
and in her lap lay a little child asleep. Just as we stepped across the 
threshold the executioner gave his machine a slight turn, which wrung 
a cry from both the prisoner and the woman; but I shouted and the 
executioner released the strain without waiting to see who spoke. I 
could not let this horror go on; it would have killed me to see it. 
I asked the queen to let me clear the place and speak to the prisoner 
privately; and when she was going to object I spoke in a low voice 
and said I did not want to make a scene before her servants, but I must 
have my way; for I was King Arthur's representative, and was speak- 
ing in his name. She saw she had to yield. I asked her to endorse me 
to these people, and then leave me. It was not pleasant for her, but 



2IO ^i ROYAL BANQUET. 

she toi)k the pill; and even went further than I was meaninj^ tf) require. 
I only wanted the backinij of her own authority; but she said — 

" Ye will do in all things as this lord shall command. It is The 
Boss."' 

It \vas certainly a good word to conjure with: you could see it by 
the squirming of these rats. The queen's guards fell into line, and she 
and they marched away, with their torch-bearers, and woke the echoes 
of the cavernous tunnels with the measured beat of their retreating 
foot-falls. I had the prisoner taken from the rack and placed upon his 
bed, and medicaments applied to his hurts, and wine given him to 
drink. The woman crept near and looked on, eagerly, lovingly, but 
timorously, — like one who fears a repulse; indeed, she tried furtively to 
touch the man's forehead, and jumped back, the picture of fright, when 
I turned unconsciously toward her. It was pitiful to see. 

" Lord," I said, " stroke him, lass, if you want to. Do anything 
you're a mind to; don't mind me." 

Why, her eyes were as grateful as an animal's, when you do it a 
kindness that it understands. The baby was out of her way and she 
had her cheek against the man's in a minute, and her hands fondling 
his hair, and her happy tears running down. The man revived, and 
caressed his wife with his eyes, which was all he could do. I judged 
I might clear the den, now, and I did; cleared it of all but the family 
and myself. Then I said — 

" Now my friend, tell me your side of this matter; I know the 
other side." 

The man moved his head in sign of refusal. But the woman looked 
pleased — as it seemed to me — pleased with my suggestion. I went on: 

" You know of me .-' " 

" Yes. All do, in Arthur's realms." 

" If my reputation has come to you right and straight, you should 
not be afraid to speak." 



A ROYAL BANQUET. 211 

The woman broke in, eagerly: 

" Ah, fair my lord, do thou persuade him! Thou canst an thou 
wilt. Ah, he suffereth so; and it is for me — for uic ! And how can I 
bear it ? I would I might see him die — a sweet, swift death; oh, my 
Hugo, I cannot bear this one! "' 

And she fell to sobbing and groveling about my feet, and still im- 
ploring. Imploring what ? The man's death ? I could not quite get 
the bearings of the thing. But Hugo interrupted her and said — 

" Peace! Ye wit not what ye ask. Shall I starve whom I love, to 
win a gentle death .'' I wend thou knewest me better." 

" Well," I said, " I can't quite make this out. It is a puzzle. 
Now — " 

" Ah, dear my lord, an ye will but persuade him! Consider how 
these his tortures wound me! Oh, and he will not speak! — whereas, 
the healing, the solace that lie in a blessed swift death — " 

" What arc you maundering about .' He's going out from here a 
'[■cit^ man and whole — he's not going to die." 

The man's white face lit up, and the woman flung herself at me in 
;i most surprising explosion of joy, and cried out — 

" He is saved! — for it is the King's word by the mouth of the 
king's servant — Arthur, the king whose word is gold! " 

" Well, then you do believe I can be trusted, after all. Why didn't 
\'ou before } " 

" Who doubted.^ Not I, indeed; and not she." 

" Well, why wouldn't you tell me your story, then .-^ " 

" Ye had made no promise; else had it been otherwise." 

" I see, I see. . . . And yet I believe I don't quite see, after 
all. You stood the torture and refused to confess; which shows plain 
enough to even the dullest understanding that you had nothing to 
confess — " 

" /, my lord } How so .'' It was I that killed the deer! " 



212 A /^OVA L BA NQ UR T. 

"You did? (^h, dear, this is the most mixed-ui) business that 
ever — " 

" Dear lord, I begt^ed him on my knees to confess, but — -" 
" You did! It i^ets thicker and thicker. What did }-ou want him 
to do that for? " 

" Sith it would bring^ him a cjuick death and save him all this cruel 
pain." 

" Well— yes, there is reason in that. But he didn't want the quick 
death."" 

'• He.' Why, of a surety he didT 
" Well, then, why in the world didiit he confess? " 
" Ah, sweet sir, and leave my wife and chick without bread and 
shelter ? " 

" Oh, heart of gold, now I see it! The bitter law takes the con- 
victed man"s estate and beggars his widow and his orphans. They 
could torture you to death, but without conviction or confession they 
could not rob your wife and baby. You stood by them like a man : 
and yoH — true wife and true woman that you are — you would have 
bought him release from torture at cost to yourself of slow starvation 
and death — well, it humbles a body to think what your sex can do 
when it comes to self-sacrifice. I'll book you both for my colony: 
you'll like it there; it's a Factory whe re I'm go ing to turn groping^and 
grubbing automata iiTEo jnetiy 




CHAPTER XVIII. 

IN THE queen's DUNGEONS. 

ELL, I arranged all that; and I had the 
man sent to his home. I had a great 
desire to rack the executioner; not be- 
cause he was a good, pains-taking and 
pain-giving official, — for surely it was not to 
s discredit that he performed his functions 
well — but to pay him back for wantonly cuff- 
ing and otherwise distressing that young 
woman. The priests told me about this, and 
were generously hot to have him punished. 
Something of this disagreeable sort was 
turning up every now and then. I mean, 
episodes that showed that not all priests 
were frauds and self-seekers, but that many, 

even the 
great ma- 
jority, of 
these that 
/^^ were down 
^ on the 



— ^^^^^t^ round 

among the common people, were sincere and right-hearted, and de- 
voted to the alleviation of human troubles and sufferings. Well, it 
w as a thing which could not be helped, so I seldom fretted about it, 



yk 



216 ^/ fX THE QUEEN'S DUNGEONS. 

and never many minutes at a time; it has never been my way to 
bother much about things which you can't cure. But I did not like 
it, for it was just the sort of thing to keep people reconciled to an 
Ivstablished Church. We must hav e a religion — it g oes without say- 
ing—but my idea is, to have it cut up into forty free sects, so that they 
will police each other, as had been the case in the United States in my 
time. Concentration of power in a politic aj. macJiia£Ljs bad; and an 
Established XJb,urjdb_i&,jmBLA--fiQli ti r a l ma cbiaeT--i- t was inventc iLior 
that; it is nursed, cradled, preservedfor that; it is an enemy to 
human liberty, and does"no good which it could not better do in a 
split-up and scattered condition.. That wasn't law; it wasn't gospel: 
it was only an opinion — m\- opinion, and I was only a manTorre^man : 
so it wasn't worth any more than the Pope's — or any less, for that, 
matter. ^~ 

Well, I couldn't rack the executioner, neither would I overlook the 
just complaint of the priests. The man must be punished some how 
or other, .so I degraded him from his office and made him leader of the 
band — the new one that w^as to be started. He begged hard, and said 
he couldn't play — a plausible excuse, but too thin; there wasn't a 
musician in the country that could. 

The queen was a good deal outraged, next morning, when she 
found she was going to hav'e neither Hugo's life nor his property. But 
I told her she must bear this cross; that while by law and custom she 
certainly was entitled to both the man's life and his property, there 
were extenuating circumstances, and so in Arthur the king's name I 
had pardoned him. The deer was ravaging the man's fields, and he 
had killed it in sudden passion, and not for gain; and he had carried 
it into the royal forest in the hope that that might make detection of 
the misdoer impossible. Confound her, I couldn't make her see that 
sudden passion is an extenuating circumstance in the killing of veni- 
son — or of a person — so I gave it up and let her sulk it out. I did 



IN THE QUEEN'S DUNGEONS. 2 1 7 

think 1 was going to make her see it 1))^ remarking- that her own sud- 
den passion in the case of the page mochfied that erinie. 

"Crime!" she exchiimed. "How thou talkest! Crime, forsooth! 
Man, I am going to pay for him! " i/ 

Oh, it was no use to waste sense on her. Training — training is 
exerything ; training is all there is /^ a person. We speak of nature; it 
is folly; there is no such thing a_s natur e; what we call by that mislead- 
ing name is merely heredity an d traini ng- . We have no thoughts of our 
own7 no opinions of our own; they are transmitted to us, trained 
into us. All that is original in us, and therefore fairly creditable or 
discreditable to us, can be covered up and hidden by the point of a 
cambric needle, all the rest being atoms contributed by, and inherited 
ii'tm, a procession of ancestors that stretches back a billion years to 
■he Adam-clam or grasshopper or monkey from whom our race has 
ijcen so tediously and ostentatiously and unprofitably developed. And 
as for me, all that I think about in this plodding s ad pilgrimage, this 
l)athetic drift between_the^e ternities, is t o lookout and humjDly live a 
pure and hig h and blameless lifej_and save that one microscopic atom 
in me that is truly uic : the rest may land in Sheol and welcome for all 
1 care. 

No, confound her, her intellect was good, she had brains enough, 
l)iit her training made her an ass — that is, from a many-centuries-later 
point of view. To kill the page was no crime — it was her right ; and 
upon her right she stood, serenely and unconscious of offense. She was 
;i result of generations of training in the unexamined and unassailed 
belief that the law which permitted her to kill a subject when she 
chose was a perfectly right and righteous one. 

Well, we must give even Satan his due. She deserved a compli- 
ment for one thing; and I tried to pay it, but the words stuck in my 
tliroat. She had a right to kill the boy, but she was in no wise obliged 
to pay for him. That was law for some other people, but not for 



2l8 



IN THE QUEEN'S DUNGEONS. 



her. She knew quite well that she was doing a large and generous 
thing to pay for that lad, and that I ought in common fairness to come 
out with something handsome about it, but I couldn't — my mouth 
refused. I couldn't help seeing, in my fancy, that poor old grandam 
with the broken heart, and that fair young creature lying butchered, 
his little silken pomps and vanities laced with his golden blood. How 
could she pay for him } Whom could she pay .^ And so, well knowing 
that this woman, trained as she had been, deserved praise, even 
adulation. I was )'et not able to utter it, trained as / had been. 'The 




THE CHURCH, THE KING, THE NOBLEMAN, AND THE FREEMAN. 

best I could do was to fish up a compliment from outside, so to speak 
— and the pity of it was, that it was true : 

" Madame, your people will adore you for this." 

Quite true, but I meant to hang her for it some day, if I lived. 
Some of those laws w^ere too bad, altogether too bad. A master might 
kill his slave for nothing: for mere spite, malice, or to pass the time- 
just as we have seen that the crowned head could do it with Jiis slave, 
that is to say, anybody. A gentleman could kill a free commoner, and. 
pay for him — cash or garden-truck. A noble could kill a noble without 



JJV THE QUEEN'S DUNGEONS. 2I9 

c\-pen.se, as far as the law was concerned, but reprisals in kind were to 
l)e expected. Aiiyho<\y could k ill soiuc\iO<\\\ except the commoner and 

ihe slave; these had no privileges. If they killed, it was murder, and 

-^ , ■ 

the law wouldnt stand murder. It made short work of the experi- 
menter — and of his family too, if he murdered somebody who belonged 
up among the ornamental ranks. If a commoner gave a noble even so 
much as a Damiens-scratch which didn't kill or even hurt, he got 
Damiens's dose for it just the same; they pulled him to rags and tat- 
ters with horses, and all the world came to see the show, and crack 
jokes, and have a good time; and some of the performances of the best 
people present were as tough, and as properly unprintable, as any that 
have been printed by the pleasant Casanova in his chapter about the 
dismemberment of Louis XV's poor awkward enemy. 

I had had enough of this grisly place by this time, and wanted to 
leave, but I couldn't, because I had something on my mind that my 
conscience kept prodding me about, and wouldn't let me forget. If I 
had the remaking of man, he wouldn't have an y conscien ce. It is one 
of the most disagreeable things connected with a person; and although 
it certainly does a great deal of good, it cannot be said to pay, in the 
long run; it would be much better to have less good and more comfort. 
Still, this is only my opinion, and I am only one man; others, with less 
experience, may think differently. Tliey have a right to their view. I 
1 only stand to this: I have noticed my conscience for many years, and 
I know it is more trouble and bother to me than anything else I started 
with. I suppose that in the beginning I prized it, because we prize 
anything that is ours; and yet how foolish it was to think so. If we 
look at it in another way, we see how absurd it is: if I had an anvil in 
me would I prize it } Of course not. And yet when you come to think, 
there is no real difference between a conscience and an anvil — I mean 



forcomfbri,__ I have noticed it a thousand times. And you could dis- 
solve an anvil with acids, when you couldn't stand it any longer; but 



2 20 /A' THE QUERN'S DUNGEONS. 

there isn't any way tliat you can work off a conscience — at least so it 
will stay worked off; not that I know of, anyway. 

There was something; I wanted to do before leaving, but it was a 
disagreeable matter, and I hated to go at it. Well, it bothered me all 
the morning. I could have mentioned it to the old king, but what 
would be the use .' — he was but an extinct volcano; he had been active 
in his time, but his fire was out, this good while, he was only a stately 
ash-pile, now; gentle enough, and kindly enough for my purpose, with- 
out doubt, but not usable. He was nothing, this so-called king: the 
queen was the only power there. And she was a Vesuvius. As a favor, 
she might consent to w^arm a flock of sparrows for you, but then she 
might take that very opportunity to turn herself loose and bury a city. 
However, I reflected that as often as any other way, when you are 
expecting the worst, you get something that is not so bad, after all. 

So I braced up and placed my matter before her royal Highness. I 
said I had been having a general jail-delivery at Camelot and among 
neighboring castles, and with her permission I would like to examine I 
her collection, her bric-a-brac — that is to say, her prisoners. She 
resisted; but I was expecting that. But she finally consented. I was I 
expecting that, too, but not so soon. That about ended my discomfort, [i 
She called her guards and torches, and we went down into the dungeons. 1 1 
These were down under the castle's foundations, and mainly were small | 
cells hollowed out of the living rock. Some of these cells had no light 
at all. In one of them was a woman, in foul rags, who sat on the 
ground, and would not answer a question, or speak a word, but only 
looked up at us once or twice, through a cobweb of tangled hair, as if 
to see what casual thing it might be that was disturbing with sound 
and light the meaningless dull dream that was become her life; after 
that, she sat bowed, with her dirt-caked fingers idly interlocked in her 
lap, and gave no further sign. This poor rack of bones was a woman 
of middle age, apparently; but only apparently; she had been there 



IN THE QUEEN'S DUNGEONS. 221 

nine years, and was eighteen when she entered. She was a commoner, 
and had been sent here on her bridal night by Sir Breuse Sancc Pite, 

* a neighboring lord whose vassal her father was, and to which said lord 
she had refused what has since been called Ic droit die Seigneur ; and 

'moreover, had opposed violence to violence and spilt half a gill of his 
almost sacred blood. The young husband had interfered at that point, 

'believing the bride's life in danger, and had flung the noble out into 
the midst of the humble and trembling wedding guests, in the parlor, 
and left him there astonished at this strange treatment, and implaca- 
bly embittered against both bride and groom. The said lord being 
cramped for dungeon-room had asked the queen to accommodate his 
two criminals, and here in her bastile they had been ever since; hither 
indeed, they had come before their crime v.'as an hour old, and had 
never seen each other since. Here they were, kerneled like toads in 
the same rock; they had passed nine pitch dark years within fifty feet 
of each other, yet neither knew whether the other was alive or not. 
All the first years, their only question had been — asked with beseech- 
ings and tears that might have moved stones, in time, perhaps, but 
hearts are not stones: " Is he alive t " " Is she alive t " But they had 
never got an answer; and at last that question was not asked any 
more — or any other. 

I wanted to see the man, after hearing all this. He was thirty- 
four years old, and looked si.xty. He sat upon a squared block of 
stone, with his head bent down, his forearms resting on his knees, his 
long hair hanging like a fringe before his face, and he was muttering 
to himself. He raised his chin and looked us slowly over, in a listless 
dull way, blinking with the distress of the torch-light, then dropped 
his head and fell to muttering again and took no further notice of us. 
There were some pathetically suggestive dumb witnesses present. On 
his wrists and ancles were cicatrices, old smooth scars, and fastened 
to the stone on which he sat was a chain with manacles and fetters 



22 2 I^ THE QUEEN'S DUXGEONS, 

attached; but this apparatus lay idle on the ground, and was thick 
with rust. Chains cease to be needed after the spirit has gone out of 
a prisoner. 

I could not rouse the man; so I said we would take him to her, and 
see — to the btide who w^as the fairest thing in the earth to him, once 
— roses, pearls and dew made flesh, for him; a wonder-work, the mas- 
ter-work of nature: with eyes like no other eyes, an3~vbice like no 
other'voice, and a freshness, and lithe young grace, and beauty, that 
belongecl properly to the creaturesofdreams — asTTe^thought — and to 
no other. The sight of her would set his'slagnant blood leaping; the 
sight of her — 

But it was a disappointment. They sat together on the ground and 
looked dimly wondering into each other's faces a while, with a sort of 
weak animal curiosity; then forgot each other's presence, and dropped 
their eyes, and you saw that they were away again and wandering in 
some far land of dreams and shadows that we know nothing about. 

I had them taken out and sent to their friends. The queen did not 
like it much. Not that she felt any personal interest in the matter, 
but she thought it disrespectful to Sir Breuse Sance Pite. However, 
I assured her that if he found he couldn't stand it I would fix him so 
that he could. 

I set forty-seven prisoners loose out of those awful rat-holes, and 
left only one in captivity. He was a lord, and had killed another 
lord, a sort of kinsman of the queen. That other lord had -ambushed 
him to assassinate him, but this fellow had got the best of him and cut 
his throat. However, it was not for that that I left him jailed, but for 
maliciously destroying the only public well in one of his wretched vil- 
lages. The queen was bound to hang him for killing her kinsman, but 
I would not allow it: it was no crime to kill an assassin. But I said I 
was willing to let her hang him for destroying the well; so she con- 
cluded to put up with that, as it was better than nothing. 



IN THE QUEEiV'S DUNGEONS. 



22 ■ 



Dear mc, for what trifling" offenses the most of those forty-seven 
men and women were shut up there ! Indeed some were there for no 
distinct offense at all, but onl}' to gratify somebody's spite; and not 
always the queen's by an}- means, but a friend's. The newest prison- 
er's crime was a mere remark which he had made. He said he be- 

■^ ■ 

lieved that rnejuvere^ about all alike^and one man as_goo d as anothe r, 
barring clothes. He said he believed that if you were to strip the na- 
tion naked and send a stranger through 
the crowd, he couldn't tell the king 
from a quack doctor, nor a duke 
from a hotel clerk. Apparently 
here was a man whose brains 
had not been reduced to an 
ineffectual mush by idi- 
otic training. I set him 
loose and sent him to 
the Factory.''* 

Some of the cells 
carved in the living rock 
were just behind the face 
of the preci- 
pice, and in 
each of these 
an arrow -slit 
had been pierc- 
ed outward to 
the daylight, 
and so the cap- 
tive had a thin 
ray from the 

THE QUEEN'S OWN." blcSScd SUn 




2 24 /-^' '^ffl-- QUEER'S DLXGEOXS. 

for his comfort. The case of one of these poor fellows was particu- 
larly hard. From his dusky swallow's hole high up in that vast 
wall of native rock he could peer out through the arrow-slit arid see 
his own home off yonder in the valley; and for twenty-two years he 
had watched it, with heart-ache and longing, through that crack. He 
could see the lights shine there at night, and in the da}-timc he could 
see figures go in and come out — his Avife and children, some of them, no- 
doubt, though he could not make out, at that distance. In the course 
of )'ears he noted festivities there, and tried to rejoice, and wondered 
if the}- were weddings or what the}- might be. And he noted funerals; 
and they wrung his heart. He could make out the coffin, but he could 
not determine its size, and so. could not tell whether it was wife or 
child. He could see the procession form, with priests and mourners, 
and move solemnl}' awa\-, bearing the secret with them. He had left 
behind him fi\'e children and a wife; and in nineteen years he had seen 
five funerals issue, and none of them humble enough in pomp to denote 
a servant. So he had lost five of his treasures; there must still be one 
remaining — one now infinitely, unspeakably precious, — but which one .-' 
wife, or child .' That was the question that tortured him, b}- night and 
by da}% asleep and awake. Well, to have an interest, of some sort, and 
half a ray of light, when you are in a dungeon, is a great support to the 
body and preserver of the intellect. This man was in pretty good con- 
dition yet. By the time he had finished telling me his distressful tale, I 
was in the same state of mind that you Avould have been in yourself, if 
you have got average human curiosity : that is to say, I was as burning 
up as he was, to find out which member of the family it was that was 
left. So I took him over home myself; and an amazing kind of a sur- 
prise part}- it was, too — typhoons and c}-clones of frantic jo}% and whole 
Niagaras of happ}- tears; and b}- George we found the aforetime }'Oung 
matron graying toward the imminent verge of her half century, and the 
babies all men and women, and some of them married and experiment- 



IN THE QUEEN'S DUNGEONS. 225 

ing family-wise themselves — for not a soul of the tribe was dead! 
Conceive of the ingenious devilishness of that queen: she had a special 
hatred for this prisoner, and she had i)ivc)itcd all those funerals herself, 
to scorch his heart with; and the sublimcst stroke of genius of the 
whole thing was leaving the family-invoice a funeral short, so as to let 
him wear his poor old soul out guessing. 

l^ut for me, he never would have got out. Morgan le Fay hated 
him with her whole heart, and she never would have softened toward 
him. And yet his crime was committed more in thoughtlessness than 
deliberate depravity. He had said she had red hair. Well, she had; 
but that was no way to speak of it. When rctl-hcadcd people are above 
a certain social grade, their hair is auburn. 

Consider it: among these forty-seven captives, there were five whose 
names, offences and dates of incarceration were no longer known ! 
One woman and four men — all bent, and wrinkled, and mind-extin- 
guished patriarchs. They themselves had long ago forgotten these 
details; at any rate they had mere vague theories about them, noth- 
ing definite and nothing that they repeated twice in the same way. 
The succession of priests whose office it had been to pray daily with 
the captives and remind them that God had put them there, for some 
wise purpose or other, and teach them that patience, humbleness, and 
submission to oppression was what He loved to see in parties of a sub- 
ordinate rank, had traditions about these poor old human ruins, but noth- 
ing more. These traditions went but little way, for they concerned the 
length of the incarceration only, and not the names or the offences. 
And even by the help of tradition the only thing that could be proven 
;ls that none of the five had seen daylight for thirty-five years: how 
niuch longer this privation had lasted was not guessable. The king and 
the queen knew nothing about these poor creatures, except that they 
were heirlooms, assets inherited, along with the throne, from the former 
firm. Nothing of their history had been transmitted with their persons, 



226 



IN TIIR QUEEN'S DUNGEONS. 



and so the inheriting,'' owners had considered tliem of no value, and had 

felt no interest in them. I said to the queen — 

" Then why in the world didn't you set them free?" 

The question was a puzzler. She didn't know wliy she hadn't; the 




"children of monarchy by the grace of god and the established church." 



AV THE QUEEN'S DUNGEONS. 227 

thing had never come up in her mind. So here she was, forecasting 
the veritable history of future prisonersof the castle d'lf, without know- 
ing it. It seemed plain to me now, that \ath her training, those in- 
herited prisoners were merelj;__pro^erty:^:2not]iiiic^_jjiorp, nothing less. 
Well, when w^e~mTTerit property^_it_ does n ot occur to us to throw it 
away, even wh en w^ do not value it. 

When I brought my procession of human bats up into the open 
world and the glare of the afternoon sun — previously blind-folding 
them, in charity for eyes so long untortured by light — they were a 
spectacle to look at. Skeletons, scarecrows, goblins, pathetic frights, 
every one: legitimatest possible children of Monarchy by the Grace of 
God and the Established Church. I muttered absently — 

" I wisJi I could photograph them! " 

You have seen that kind of people who will never let on that they 
don't know the meaning of a new big word. T he more ignora nt they 
are, the more pitifully certain they are to pretend you haven 't shot over 
their heads. The queen was just one of that sort, and was always 
making the stupidest blunders by reason of it. She hesitated a mo- 
ment; then her face brightened up with sudden comprehension, and 
she said she would do it for me. 

I thought to myself: She.'' why what can she know about photog- 
raphy .'' But it was a poor time to be thinking. When I looked 
around, she was moving on the procession with an axe! 

Well, she certainly was a curious one, was Morgan le Fay. I have 
saen a good many kinds of women in my time, but she laid over them 
all, for variety. And how sharply characteristic of her this episode 
was. She had no more idea than a horse, of how to photograph a pro- 
cession; but being in doubt, it was just like her to try to do it with an 
axe. 



p 



.^ 




O' 



CHAPTER XIX. 




KNIGHT ERRANTRY AS A TRADE. 

ANDY and I were on the road again, next 
morning, bright and early. It was so good to 
open up one's lungs and take in whole luscious 
barrels-full of the blessed God's untainted, 
dew -freshened, woodland -scented air once 
more, after suffocating body and mind for two 
days and nights in the moral and physical 
stenches of that intolerable old buzzard-roost! 
I mean, for me: of course the place was all 
right and agreeable enough for Sandy, for she 
had been used to high life all her days. 

Poor girl, her jaws had had a wearisome 
rest, now for a while, and I was expecting to 
get the consequences. I was right; but she 
had stood by me most helpfully in the castle, 

and had mightily 

upported and 

ein forced me 

i t h gigantic 

'o o 1 ish nesses 

w h i c h were 

worth more 

for the 

?5^? ^j:V ,f--_ - — ^-. y occasion 



23- A\yj(7//7^ £M/;:.-iArji^v .-is .1 trade. 

than wisdoms double their size; so 1 thought she had earned a right 
to work her mill for a while, if she wanted to, and I felt not a pang 
when she started it up: 

"Now turn we unto Sir Marhaus that rode with the damsel of thirty- 
winter of age southward — " 

" Are you going to see if you can work up another half-stretch on 
the trail of the cowboys, Sandy?" 

" Even so, fair my lord." 

" Go ahead, then. I won't interrupt this time, if I can help it. Be- 
gin over again; start fair, and shake out all your reefs, and I will load 
my pipe and give good attention." 

" Now turn we unto Sir Marhaus that rode with the damsel of thirty 
winter of age southward. And so they came into a deep forest, and by 
fortune they were nighted, and rode along in a deep way, and at the 
last they came into a courtelage where abode the duke of South 
Marches, and there they asked harbour. And on the morn the duke 
sent unto Sir Marhaus, and bad him make him ready. And so Sir 
Marhaus arose and armed him, and there was a mass sung afore him., 
and he brake his fast, and so mounted on horseback in the court of the 
castle, there they should do the battle. So there was the duke already 
on horseback, clean armed, and his six sons by him, and every each had 
a spear in his hand, and so the)' encountered, whereas the duke and his 
two sons brake their spears upon him, but Sir Marhaus held up his spear 
and touched none of them. Then came the four sons by couples, and 
two of them brake their spears, and so did the other two. And all this 
while Sir Marhaus touched them not. Then Sir Marhaus ran to the 
duke, and smote him with his spear that horse and man fell to the earth. 
And so he served his sons. And then Sir Marhaus alight down, and 
bad the duke yield him or else he would slay him. And then some of 
his sons recovered, and would have set upon Sir Marhaus. Then Sir 
Marhaus said to the duke. Cease thy sons, or else I will do the utter- 



234 sdo KNIGHT ERRANTRY AS A TRADE. 

hei=- 
most to you aTl. When the duke saw he might not escape the death, 

he cried to his sons, and charged them to yield them to Sir Marhaus. 
And they kneeled all down and put the pommels of their swords to the 
knight, and so he received them. And then they holp up their father, 
and so by their common assent promised unto Sir Marhaus never to be 
foes unto King Arthur, and thereupon at Whitsuntide after, to come 
he and his sons, and put them in the king's grace. ■^•' 

" Even so standeth the history, fair Sir Boss. Now ye shall wit that 
that very duke and his six sons are they whom but few days past you 
also did overcome and send to Arthur's court! " 
" Why, Sandy, you can't mean it! " 
" An I speak not sooth, let it be the worse for me." 
" Well, well, well, — now who would ever have thought it 1 One 
whole duke and six dukelets; why, Sandy, it was an elegant haul. 
Knight-errantry is a most chuckle-headed trade, and it is tedious hard 
work, too, but I begin to sec that there is money in it, after all, if you 
have luck. Not that I would ever engage in it as a business; for I 
wouldn't. No sound and legitimate business can be established on a 
basis of speculation. A successful whirl in the knight-errantry line — 
now what is it when you blow away the nonsense and come down to 
the cold facts ? It's just a corner in pork, that's all, and you can't make 
anything else out of it. You're rich — yes, — suddenly rich — for about a 
day, maybe a week: then somebody corners the market on yoii, and 
down goes your bucket-shop; ain't that so, Sandy .-^ " 

" Whethersoever it be that my mind miscarrieth, bewraying simple 
language in such sort that the words do seem to come endlong and 
overthwart — " 

" There's no use in beating about the bush and trying to get around 
it that way, Sandy, it's so, just as I say. I know it's so. And, more- 
over, when you come right down to the bed-rock, knight-errantry is 
*The story is borrowed, language and all, from the Morte d Arthur. — M. T, 



_ 



KNIGHT ERRANTRY AS A TRADE. 235 

worse than pork; for whatever happens, the pork's left, and so some- 
body's benefited, anyway; but when the market breaks, in a knight- 
errantr}' whirl, and every knight in the pool passes in his checks, what 
ha\'e you got for assets? Just a rubbish-pile of battered corpses and a 
barrel or two of busted hardware. Can you call tJiosc assets? Gi\-e 
me pork, every time. Am I right? " 

" Ah, peradventure my head being distraught by the manifold mat- 
ters whereunto the confusions of these but late adventured haps and 
fortunings whereby not I alone nor you alone, but every each of us, 
meseemeth — " 

" No, it's not your head, Sand)'. Your head's all right, as far as it 
goes, but you don't know business; that's where the trouble is. It un- 
fits )'ou to argue about business, and you're wrong to be always trying. 
However, that aside, it was a good haul, anyway, and will breed a 
handsome crop of reputation in Arthur's court. And speaking of the 
cow-boys, what a curious country this is for women and men that 
never get old. Now there's Morgan le Fay, as fresh and young as a 
Vassar pullet, to all appearances, and here is this old duke of the South 
Marches still slashing away with sword and lance at his time of life, 
after raising such a family as he has raised. As I understand it, Sir 
Gawaine killed seven of his sons, and still he had six left for Sir Mar- 
haus and me to take into camp. And then there was that damsel of 

sixty winter of age still excursioning around in her frosty bloom 

How old are you, Sandy ? " 

It was the first time I ever struck a still place in her. The mill had 
shut down for repairs, or somethi.ij^. 



^r\ 



^' 




CHAPTER XX. 




THE OGRES CASTILE. 

ETWEEN six and nine wc made ten miles, which 
was plenty for a horse carrying triple — man, woman, 
and armor; then we stopped for a long nooning, 
under some trees by a limpid brook. 

Right so came bye and bye a knight riding; and 
as he drew near he made dolorous moan, and by the 
words of it I perceived that he was cursing and 
swearing; yet nevertheless was I glad of his com- 
ing, for that I saw he bore a bulletin-board whereon 
in letters all of shining gold was writ — 

" Use Peterson's Prophylactic Tooth-Brush 
— All the Go." 

I was glad of his coming, for even by 
this token I knew him for knight of 
mine. It was Sir Madok de l.-j 
Montaine, a burly great fellow 
w^hose chief distinction was that 
he had come within an ace of 
sending Sir Launce- 
lot down over his 
horse-tail once. He 
was never long in a 
stranger's presence 
without finding some pretext or other to let out that great fact. But 
there was another fact of nearly the same size, which he never pushed 




240 THE OGRES CASTLE. 

upon anybody unasked, and yet never withheld when asked: that was, 
that the reason he didn't quite succeed was, that he was interrupted 
and sent down over horse-tail himself. This innocent vast lubber did 
not see any particular difference between the two facts. I liked him, 
for he was earnest in his work, and very valuable. And he was so fine 
to look at, with his broad mailed shoulders, and the grand leonine set 
of his plumed head, and his big shield with its quaint device of a 
gauntleted hand clutching a prophylactic tooth-brush, with motto: 
''Try Noyondo)itr This was a tooth-wash that I was introducing. 

He was aweary, he said, and indeed he looked it; but he would not 
alight. He said he was after the stove-polish man; and with this he 
broke out cursing and swearing anew. The bulletin-boarder referred 
to was Sir Ossaise of Surluse, a brave knight, and of considerable 
celebrity on account of his having tried conclusions in a tournament, 
once, with no less a Mogul than Sir Gaheris himself — although not 
successfully. He was of a light and laughing disposition, and to him 
nothing in this world was serious. It was for this reason that I had 
chosen him to work up a stove-polish sentiment. There were no stoves 
yet, and so there could be nothing serious about stove-polish. All 
that the agent needed to do was to deftly and by degrees prepare the 
public for the great change, and have them established in predilec- 
tions toward neatness against the time when the stove should appear 
upon the stage. 

Sir Madok was very bitter, and brake out anew with cursings. He 
said he had cursed his soul to rags; and yet he would not get down 
from his horse, neither would he take any rest, or listen to any com- 
fort, until he should have found Sir Ossaise and settled this account. 
It appeared, by what I could piece together of the unprofane fragments 
of his statement, that he had chanced upon Sir Ossaise at dawn of the 
morning, and been told that if he would make a short cut across the 
fields and swamps and broken hills and glades, he could head off a 



THE OGKKS CASTLE. 24 1 

company of travelers who would be rare customers for prophylactics 
and tooth-wash. With characteristic zeal Sir Madok had plunged 
away at once upon this quest, and after three hours of awful crosslot 
riding had overhauled his game. And behold, it was the five patri- 
archs that had been released from the dungeons the evening before ! 
Poor old creatures, it was all of twenty years since any one of them 
had known what it was to be equipped with any remaining snag or 
remnant of a tooth. 

" Blank-blank-blank him," said Sir Madok, " an I do not stove-polish 
him an I may find him, leave it to me; for never no knight that hight 
Ossaise or aught else may do me this disservice and bide on live, an I 
may find him, the which I have thereunto sworn a great oath this day." 

And with these w^ords, and others, he lightly took his spear and gat 
him thence. In the middle of the afternoon we came upon one of 
those very patriarchs ourselves, in the edge of a poor village. He 
was basking in the love of relatives and friends whom he had not seen 
for fifty years; and about him and caressing him were also descendants 
"of his own body whom he had never seen at all till now; but to him 
these were all strangers, his memory was gone, his mind was stagnant. 
It seemed incredible that a man could outlast half a century shut up 
in a dark hole like a rat, but here were his old wife and some old com- 
rades to testify to it. They could remember him as he was in the 
freshness and strength of his young manhood, when he kissed his child 
and delivered it to it's mother's hands and went away into that long 
oblivion. The people at the castle could not tell within half a genera- 
tion the length of time the man had been shut up there for his unre- 
corded and forgotten offence; but this old wife knew; and so did her 
old child, who stood there among her married sons and daughters try- 
ing to realize a father who had been to her a name, a thought, a form- 
less image, a tradition, all her life, and now was suddenly concreted 
into actual flesh and blood and set before her face. 



X'' 



242 THE OGRES CASTLE. 

It was a curious situation; yet it is not on that account that I have 
niadc room for it here, but on account of a tliini; whicli seemed to me 
still more curious. To -wit, that this dreadful matter brought from 
these down-trodden people no outburst of rage against their oppress- 
ors. They had been heritors and subjects of cruelty and outrage so- 
long that nothing could have startled them but a kindness. Yes, here 
was a curious revelation indeed, of the depth to which this people had 
been sunk in slavery. Their entire being was reduced to a monoto- 
nous dead l evel of patience, resignation, dum b uncomplainmi^ acc ept- 
ance of whatever might befiil them in this life. T heir very imagination 
was dead. When you can say that of a man, he has struck bottom, I 
reckon; there is no lower deep for him. 

I rather wished I had gone some other road. This was not the sort 
of experience for a statesman to encounter who was planning out a 
peaceful revolution in his mind. For it could not help bringing up 
the un-get-aroundable fact that, all gentle cant and philosophising to 
the contrary notwithstanding, no people in the world ever did achieve 
their freedo m by^ g^ody^goody talk an d moral s uasioiK_Jtj3eingmirnu- 
table law that all revolutions that will succeed, must begin in blood, 
whatever may answer afterward. If history teaches anything, it teaches 
that. What this folk needed, then, was a Reign of Terror and a guil- 
lotine, and I was the wrong man for them. 

Two days later, toward noon, Sandy began to show signs of excite- 
ment and feverish expectancy. She said we were approaching the 
ogre's castle. I was surprised into an uncomfortable shock. The 
object of our quest had gradually dropped out of m}'mind; this sudden 
resurrection of it made it seem quite a real and startling thing, for a 
moment, and roused up in me a smart interest. Sandy's excitement 
increased every moment; and so did mine, for that sort of thing is 
catching. My heart got to thumping. You can't reason with your 
heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect 



THE OGRE'S CASTLE. 



243 



scorns. Presentl}-, when Sandy slid from the horse, motioned me to 
stop, and went creeping stealthily, with her head bent nearly to her 
knees, toA\ard a row of bushes that bordered a declivity, the thump- 
ings grew stronger and quicker. And they kept it up while she was 
gaining her ambush and getting her glimpse over the declixity^ and 
also while I was creeping to her side on my knees. Her eyes were 
burning, now, as she pointed \\\t\\ her finger, and said in a panting 
whisper — 

" The castle! The castle! Lo, where it looms! " 

What a welcome disappointment I experienced! I said — 

" ~ -Jv-^ /-=^ "Castle^ It IS nothing but a pig-sty; a pig- 
sty with a w.ittled fence around it." 

She looked ^surprised and distressed. 

The animation faded out of her 

face , and during many mo- 

nts she was lost in 

thought and silent. 

Then — 

"It was not en- 
chanted aforetime," 
she said in a 




musing fash- 
ion, as if to 
herself. "And 



SANDY WITH ROYALTY. 



244 '^^^^ OGKKS CASTLE. 

how Strange is this marvel, and how awful — that to the one perception 
it is enchanted and dight in a base and shameful aspect; yet to the 
perception of the other it is not enchanted, hath suffered no change, 
but stands firm and stately still, girt with its moat and waving its ban- 
ners in the blue air from its towers. And God shield us, how it pricks 
the heart to sec again these gracious captives, and the sorrow deepened 
in their sweet faces! We have tarried long, and are to blame." 

I saw my cue. The castle was enchanted to mc, not to her. It 
would be wasted time to try to argue her out of her delusion, it couldn't 
be done; I must just humor it. So I said — 

" This is a common case — the enchanting of a thing to one eye and 
Icaxing it in its proper form to another. You have heard of it before, 
Sandy, though you havn't happened to experience it. But no harm 
is done. In fact it is lucky the way it is. If these ladies were hogs to 
everybody and to themselves, it would be necessary to break the en- 
chantment, and that might be impossible if one failed to find out the 
particular process of the enchantment. And hazardous, too; for in 
attempting a disenchantment without the true key, you are liable to 
err, and turn your hogs into dogs, and the dogs into cats, the cats into 
rats, and so on, and end by reducing your materials to nothing, finally, 
or to an odorless gas which you can't follow — which of course amounts 
to the same thing. But here, by good luck, no one's eyes but mine are 
under the enchantment, and so it is of no consequence to dissolve it. 
These ladies remain ladies to you, and to themselves, and to everybody 
else; and at the same time they will suffer in no way from my delusion, 
for when I know that an ostensible hog is a lady, that is enough for 
me, I know how to treat her." 

"Thanks, oh sweet my lord, thou talkest like an angel. And I 
know that thou wilt deliver them, for that thou art minded to great 
deeds and art as strong a knight of your hands and as 'brave to will 
and to do, as any that is on live." 



THE OGKE'S CASTLR. 



245 



" I will not leave a princess in the sty, Sandy. Are those three 
yonder that to my disordered eyes are starveling,- swineherds — " 

"The ogres? Are ///^j changed also ? It is most wonderful. Now 
am I fearful; for how canst thou strike with sure aim when five of their 
nine cubits of stature are to thee invisible .'' Ah, go warily, fair sir; 
this is a mightier emprise than I wend." 

" You be easy, Sandy. All I need to know is, how much of an ogre 
is invisible; then I know how to locate his vitals. Don't you be afraid, 
I will make short work of these bunco-steerers. Stay where you are." 

I left Sandy kneeling there, corpse-faced but plucky and hopeful, 
and rode down to the pig-sty, and struck up a trade with the swine- 
herds. I won their gratitude by buying out all the hogs at the lump 
sum of sixteen pennies, which was rather above latest quotations. I was 
just in time; for the Church, the lord of the manor, and the rest of the 
tax gatherers would have been along next day and swept off pretty 
much all the stock, leaving the swineherds very short of hogs and 
Sandy out of princesses. But now the tax people could be paid in 
cash, and there would be a stake left besides. One of the men had ten 
children; and he said that last year when a priest came and of his ten 
pigs took the fattest one for tithes, the wife burst out upon him, and 
offered him a child and said — 

"Thou beast without bowels of mercy, why leave me my child, yet 
rob me of the wherewithal to feed it .'' " 

How curious. The same thing had happened in the Wales of my 
day, under this same old Established Church, which was supposed by 
many to have changed its nature when it changed its disguise. 

I sent the three men away, and then opened the sty gate and beck- 
oned Sandy to come — which she did; and not leisurely, but with the 
rush of a prairie-fire. And when I saw her fling herself upon those 
hogs, with tears of joy running down her cheeks, and strain them to 
her heart, and kiss them, and caress them, and call them reverently 



246 



TJIE OGRE'S CASTLE. 



by i^riind princely names, I was ashanud of her, ashamed of the 
human race. 

We had to drive those hogs home — ten miles; and no ladies were 
ever more fickle-minded or contrar)'. They would stay in no road, no 
path; they broke out through the brush on all sides, and flowed awa)- 
in all directions, ov^er rocks, and hills, and the roughest places the_\" 
could find. And they must not be struck, or roughl}- accosted; Sand)- 




WE GOT THE HOGS HOME. 



THE OGRES CASTLE. 247 

could not bear to see them treated in ways unbecoming their rank. 
The troublesomest old sow of the lot had to be called my Lady, and 
your Highness, like the rest. It is annoying and difficult to scour 
around after hogs, in armor. There was one small countess, with an 
iron ring in her snout and hardly any hair on her back, that was the 
devil for per\'ersity. She gave me a race of an hour, over all sorts of 
country, and then we were right where we had started from, having 
made not a rod of real progress. I seized her at last by the tail, and 
brought her along, squealing. When I overtook Sandy, she was hor- 
rified, and said it was in the last degree indelicate to drag a countess 
by her train. 

We got the hogs home just at dark — most of them. The princess 
Nerovens de Morganore was missing, and two of her ladies in waiting: 
namely, Miss Angela Bohun, and the Demoiselle Elaine Courtemains, 
the former of these two being a young black sow with a white star in 
her forehead, and the latter a brown one with thin legs and a slight 
limp in the forward shank on the starboard side — a couple of the try- 
ingest blisters to drive, that I ever saw. Also among the missing were 
several mere baronesses — and I wanted them to stay missing; but no, 
all that sausage-meat had to be found; so, servants were sent out with 
torches to scour the woods and hills to that end. 

Of course the whole drove was housed in the house, and great 
guns! — well, I never saw anything like it. Nor ever heard anything 
like it. And never smelt anything like it. It was like an insurrection 
in a gasometer. 




" THE POWER OF TRAINING, OF INFLUENCE, OF EDUCATION, IT CAN BRING 
A BODY UP TO BELIEVE ANYTHING." 



CHAPTER XXI. 




THE PILGRIMS. 

HEN I did get to bed at last I was 
unspeakably tired; the stretching out, 
and the relaxing of the long-tense 
muscles, how luxurious, how deli- 
cious ! but that was as far as I could 
get — sleep was out of the question, for 
the present. The ripping and tearing 
and squealing of the nobility up and 
down the halls and corridors was pan- 
demonium come again, and kept me 
broad awake. Being awake, my 
thoughts were busy, of course; and 
mainly they busied themselves 
with Sand)'"s curious delusion. 
Here she was, as sane a person 
as the kingdom could produce; 
and yet, from my point of view 




.'52 THE I'lLGRlMS. 

she was actine^ like a crazy woman. My land, the power of training! of 
influence! of education! It can bring a body up to believe anything. I 
had to put m)'self in Sandy's place to realize that she was not a lunatic. 
Yes, and put her in mine, to demonstrate how easy it is to seem a lun- 
atic tojy^ersonjvhojrias^^ If I 
had told Sandy I had seen a wagon, uninfluenced by enchantment, spin 
along fifty miles an hour; had seen a man, unequipped with magic pow- 
ers, get into a basket and soar out of sight among the clouds; and had 
listened, without any necromancer's help, to the conversation of a per- 
son who was several hundred miles away, Sandy would not merely have 
supposed me to be crazy, she would have thought she knew it. Every- 
body around her believed in enchantments; nobody had any doubts; 
to doubt that a castle could be turned into a sty, and its occupants into 
hogs, would have been the same as my doubting, among Connecticut 
people, the actuality of the telephone and its wonders, — and in both 
cases would be absolute proof of a diseased mind, an unsettled reason. 
Yes, Sandy was sane; that must be admitted. If I also would be sane 
— to Sandy — I must keep my superstitions about unenchanted and un- 
miraculous locomotives, balloons and telephones, to myself. Also, I 
believed that the world was not flat, and hadn't pillars under it to sup- 
port it, nor a canopy over it to turn off a universe of water that occu- 
pied all space above: but as I was the only person in the kingdom 
afflicted with such impious and criminal opinions, I recognized that it 
would be good wisdom to keep quiet about this matter, too, if I did not 
wish to be suddenly shunned and forsaken by everybody as a madman. 
The next morning Sandy assembled the swine in the dining room 
and gave them their breakfast, waiting upon them personally and 
manifesting in every way the deep reverence which the natives of her 
island, ancient and modern, have always felt for rank, let its outward 
casket and the mental and moral contents be what they may. I could 
have eaten with the hogs if I had had birth approaching my lofty 



THE PILGRIMS. 



253 



official rank; but I hadn't, and so accepted the unavoidable slight and 
made no complaint. Sandy and I had our breakfast at the second 
tabic. The famih' were not at home. I said: 

" How many are in the family, Sandy, and where do they keep 
themselves.'" 

" Family.'" 

"Yes." 

" Which family, good my lord.^" 

" Why, this family; your own family." 

" Sooth to say, I understand you not. I have no family." 

" No family.? Why, Sandy, isn't this your home.?" 




SANDY AND TH'? BOSS AT THE SECOND TABLE. 



-54 



THE PILGRIMS. 



" Now how iiidcecl mi<j^l t tliat be.' 1 ha\-e no home." 

" Well, then, w hose house is this?" 

" Ah, wit \-ou w ell 1 uouhl tell )ou an 1 knew m\'self." 

" Come — you dcMi't e\'en know these people? Then who invited us 
here?" 

" None invited us. We but came; that is all." 

" Why, woman, this is a most e.xtraordinary performance. The 
effrontery of it is beyond admiration. We blandl)' march into a man's 
house, and cram it full of the only really valuable nobility the sun has 
)'et discovered in the earth, and then it turns out that we don't even 
know the man's name. How did }'ou e\'er venture to take this e.vtrav- 
ay,"ant libert}'? I supposed, of course, it was }'our home. What will the 
man say?" 

" What will he say? Forsooth what can he say but give thanks?" 

" Thanks for what?" 

Her face was filled with a puzzled surprise: 

" Veril}-, thou troublest mine understanding with strange words. Do 
ye dream that one of his estate is like to have the honor twice in his 
life to entertain company such as w^e have brought to grace his house 
withal?" 

" Well, no — when you come to that. No, it's an even bet that this 
is the first time he has had a treat like this." 

" Then let him be thankful, and manifest the same by grateful 
speech and due humility; he were a dog, else, and the heir and ances- 
tor of dogs." 

To my mind, the situation was uncomfortable. It might become 
more so. It might be a good idea to muster the hogs and move on. 
So I said: 

"The day is wasting, Sandy. It is time to get the nobility together 
and be moving." 

"Wherefore, fair sir and Boss?" 



THE PILGRIMS. 255 

" We want to take them to their home, don't we ? " 

" La, but Hst to him! They be of all the regions of the earth! Each 
must hie to her own home ; wend you we might do all these journeys 
in one so brief life as He hath appointed that created life, and thereto 
death likewise with help of Adam, who by sin done through persuasion 
of his helpmeet, she being wrought upon and bewrayed by the beguile- 
ments of the great enemy of man, that serpent hight Satan, aforetime 
consecrated and set apart unto that evil work by overmastering spite 
and envy begotten in his heart through fell ambitions that did blight 
and mildew a nature erst so w^hite and pure whenso it hove with the 
shining multitudes its brethren-born in glade and shade of that fair 
heaven wherein all such as native be to that rich estate and " 

" Great Scott! " 

" My lord? " 

" Well, }'ou know we havn't got time for this sort of thing. Don't 
\ou see, we could distribute these people around the earth in less time 
than it is going to take you to explain that we can't. We mustn't talk 
now, we must act. You want to be careful ; you mustn't let your mill 
^et the start of you that way, at a time like this. To business, now — 
and sharp's the word. Who is to take the aristocracy home .'' " 

" Even their friends. These will come for them from the far parts of 
the earth." 

This was lightning from a clear sky, for unexpectedness ; and the 
relief of it was like pardon to a prisoner. She would remain to deliver 
the goods, of course. 

"Well, then, Sandy, as our enterprise is handsomely and success- 
full)' ended, I will go home and report ; and if ever another one — " 

" I also am ready ; I will go with thee." 

This was recalling the pardon. 

" How.' You will go with me.-' WHiy should }'0u .' 

" Will I be traitor to m\' knight, dost think ? That were dishonor. 



^ 



256 THE PII.CRIMS. 

I may not part from thcc until in kni<^htl\' encounter in the field some 
overmatching champion shall fairly win and fairly wear me. I were to 
blame an I thought that that might ever hap." 

" Elected for the long term," I sighed to myself " I ma)- as well 
make the best of it." So then I spoke up and said: 

" All right; let us make a start." 

While she was gone to cry her farewells over the pork. I gave that 
whole peerage awa}' to the servants. And I asked them to take a 
duster and dust around a little where the nobilities had mainly lodged 
and promenaded, but they considered that that would be hardly worth 
\vhile, and would moreover be a rather grave departure from custom, 
and therefore likely to make talk. A departu re fro mcustom — that set- 
tled it ; it was a nation capabl e of committing any crime _b u^t that.^ The 
servants said they would follow the fashion, a fashion grown sacred 
through immemorial observance: they would scatter fresh rushes in all 
the rooms and halls, and then the evidence of the aristocratic visitation 
would be no longer visible. It was a kind of satire on Nature; it was 
the scientific method, the geologic method ; it deposited the history cf 
the family in a stratified record; and the antiquary could dig through it 
and tell b}' the remains of each period what changes of diet the famil\- 
had introduced successively for a hundred years. 

The first thing we struck that da\' was a procession of pilgrims. It 
was not going our way, but we joined it nevertheless; for it was hourl)' 
being borne in upon me, now, that if I would govern this country wisel\', 
I must be posted in the details of its life, and not at second hand but by 
personal observation and scrutin}-. 

This company of pilgrims resembled Chaucer's in this: that it had 
in it a sample of about all the upper occupations and professions the 
countr)' could show, and a corresponding variety of costume. There 
were young men and old men, young women and old women, li\-ely 
folk and gra\'e folk. They rode upon mules and horses, and there was 



THE PILGRIMS. 



257 



not a side-saddle in the party; for this specialty was to remain unknown 
in England for nine hundred years yet. 

It was a pleasant, friendly, sociable herd; pious, happy, merry, and 
full of unconscious coarsenesses and innocent indecencies. What they 
regarded as the merry tale went the continual round and caused no more 
embarrassment than it would have caused in the best English society 
twelve centuries later. Practical jokes worthy of the English wits of 
the first quarter of the far-off nineteenth century were sprung here and 
there and yonder along the line, and compelled the delightedest ap- 
plause; and sometimes when a bright remark was made at one end of 




"IT HAD IN IT A SAMPLE OF ABOUT ALL THE UPPER OCCUPATIONS AND PROFESSIONS. 



the procession and started on its travels toward the other, you could 
note its progress all the way by the sparkling spray of laughter it threw 
off from its bows as it plowed along; and also by the blushes of the 
mules in its wake. 

Sandy knew the goal and purpose of this pilgrimage and she posted 
me. She said: 

" They journey to tli£_VaUeY of_fIoliness, for to be blessed of the 
godly hermits and drink of the miraculous waters and be cleansed from 
sin." 

" Where is this watering place.''" 



258 THE PILGRIMS. 

" It lieth a two da)' journey hence, by the borders of the land that 
hit^ht the Cuckoo Kingdom." 

" Tell me about it. Is it a celebrated place.' " 

" Oh, of a truth, )'es. There be none more so. Of old time there 
lived there an abbot and his monks. Belike were none in the world 
more holy than these; for they gave themselves to study of picxus 
books, and spoke not the one to the other, or indeed to any, and ate 
decayed herbs and naught thereto, and slept hard, and prayed much, 
and washed never; also they wore the same garment until it fell from 
their bodies through age and decay. Right so came they to be known 
of all the world by reason of these holy austerities, and visited by rich 
and poor, and reverenced." 

" Proceed." 

" But always there was lack of water there. Whereas, upon a 
time, the holy abbot prayed, and for answer a great stream ©f clear 
water burst forth by miracle in a desert place. Now were the fickle 
monks tempted of the Fiend, and they wrought with their abbot 
unceasingly by beggings and beseechings that he would construct a 
bath; and when he was become aweary and might not resist more, he 
said have ye your will, then, and granted that they asked. Now mark 
thou what 'tis to forsake the ways of purity the which He loveth, and 
wanton with such as be worldly and an offense. These monks did 
enter into the bath and come thence washed as white as snow ; and 
lo, in that moment His sign appeared, in miraculous rebuke! for His 
insulted waters ceased to flow, and utterly vanished away." 

" They fared mildly, Sandy, considering how that kind of crime is 
regarded in this country." 

" Belike; but it was their first sin; and they had been of perfect 
life for long, and differing in naught from the angels. Prayers, 
tears, torturings of Uie flesh, all was vain to beguile that water to. 
flow again. Even processions; even burnt offerings; even votive 



THE PILGRIMS. 259 

candles to the Virgin, did fail every each of them; and all in the land 
did marvel." 

" How odd to find that even this industry has its financial panics, 
and at times sees its assignats and greenbacks languish to zero, and 
everything come to a standstill. Go on, Sandy." 

" And so upon a time, after year and day, the good abbot made 
humble surrender and destroyed the bath. And behold. His anger 
was in that moment appeased, and the waters gushed richly forth 
again, and even unto this day they have not ceased to flow in that 
generous measure." 

" Then I take it nobody has washed since." 

" He that would essay it could have hislialter free; yea, and swiftly 
would he need it, too." 

*' The community has prospered since .-* " 

" Even from that very day. The fame of the miracle went abroad 
into all lands. From every land came monks to join; they came even 
as the fishes come, in shoals; and the monastery added building to 
building, and yet others to these, and so spread wide its arms and took 
them in. And nuns came, also; and more again, and yet more; and built 
over against the monastery on the yon side of the vale, and added build- 
ing to building, until mighty was that nunnery. And these were friend- 
ly unto those, and they joined their loving labors together, and together 
they built a fair great foundling asylum midway of the valley between." 

" You spoke of some hermits, Sandy." 

" These have gathered there from the ends of the earth. A hermit 
thriveth best where there be multitudes of pilgrims. Ye shall not find 
no hermit of no sort wanting. If any shall mention a hermit of a 
kind he thinketh new and not to be found but in some far strange 
land, let him but scratch among the holes and caves and swamps that 
line that Valley of Holiness, and whatsoever be his breed, it skills not, 
he shall find a sample of it there." 



f6o 



THE PILGRIMS. 



r 



I closed up alongside of a burly fellow with a 
fat good-humored face, purposing to make myself 
agreeable and pick up some further 
crumbs of fact; but I had hardly more 
than scraped acquaintance with him v^ , '<3, 
when he began eagerly and awkwardly 
to lead up, in the immemorial 
way, to that same old anecdote 
— the one Sir Dinadan told me, 
what time I got into trouble 
with Sir Sagramore and 
was challenged of him 
on account of it. I ex- 
cused myself and drop- 
ped to the rear of the 
procession, sad at heart, 
willing to go hence 
troubled life, this 
this brief day of 
cloud and .'■ l 

struggle and ^ „. 
feat; and yet ^-v 
the change, as _-'/ 
hoAv long eter- 
m a n }- have 
who know that 

Early in the 
overtook an- 

sion of pilgrims ; but in this one was no merriment, no jokes, no laughter,! 
no playful ways, nor any happy giddiness, whether of youth or age. Yet 
both were here, both age and }'outh; gra\- old men and women, strong 




A BAXD OF SLAA'ES. 



■^ from this 

vale of tears, 

^ broken rest, of 

^, ; ^ ) storm, of weary 

'~ Wv -' monotonous de- 

' ---' shrinking from 

remembering* 

nity is, and ho^v: 

wended thither: 

anecdote. 

afternoon \\^' 

other proces'' 



THE PILGRIMS. 26 1 

men and women of middle age, young husbands, young wives, little boys 
.md girls, and three babies at the breast. Even the children were smile- 
less; there was not a face among all these half a hundred people but 
\\ as cast down, and bore that set expression of hopelessness which is 
bred of long and hard trials and old acquaintance with despair. They 
were slaves. Chains led from their fettered feet and their manacled 
hands to a sole-leather belt about their waists; and all except the 
children were also linked together in a file, six feet apart, by a single 
chain which led from collar to collar all down the line. They were on 
fiiot, and had tramped three hundred miles in eighteen days, upon the 
cheapest odds and ends of food, and stingy rations of that. They had 
slept in these chains every night, bundled together like swine. They 
ii:\d upon their bodies some poor rags, but they could not be said to be 
clothed. Their irons had chafed the skin from their ankles and made 
sores which were ulcerated and wormy. Their naked feet were torn, 
and none walked without a limp. Originally there had been a hun- 
dred of these unfortunates, but about half had been sold on the trip. 
The trader in charge of them rode a horse and carried a whip with a 
short handle and a long heavy lash divided into several knotted tails 
at the end. With this whip he cut the shoulders of any that tottered 
from weariness and pain, and straitened them up. He did not speak; 
the whip conveyed his desire without that. None of these poor crea- 
tures looked up as we rode along by; they showed no consciousness 

I of our presence. And they made no sound but one; that was the dull 
and awful clank of their chains from end to end of the long file, as 
forty-three burdened feet rose and fell in unison. The file moved in 
a cloud of its own making. 

, ""X All these faces were gray with a coating of dust. One has seen the 
like of this coating upon furniture in unoccupied houses, and has writ- 
ten his idle thought in it with his finger. I was reminded of this when 
I noticed the faces of some of those women, young mothers carrying 



262 THE PILGRIMS. 

babes that were near to death aiul freedom, how a something in their 
hearts was written in the dust upon their faces, plain to see, and lord 
how plain to read ! for it was the track of tears. One of these young 
mothers was but a girl, and it hurt me to the heart to read that writing, 
and reflect that it was come up out of the breast of such a child, a breast 
that ought not to know trouble yet, but only the gladness of the morn- 
ing of life; and no doubt — 

She reeled just then, giddy with fatigue, and down came the lash 
and flicked a flake of skin from her naked shoulder. It stung me as if 
I had been hit instead. The master halted the file and jumped from 
his horse. He stormed and swore at this girl, and said she had made 
annoyance enough with. her laziness, and as this was the last chance 
he should have, he would settle the account now. She dropped on her 
knees and put up her hands and began to beg and cry and implore, in 
a passion of terror, but the master gave no attention. He snatched 
the child from her, and then made the men-slaves who were chained 
before and behind her throw her on the ground and hold her there 
and expose her body; and then he laid on with his lash like a madmar J 
till her back was flayed, she shrieking and struggling the while, p' ^ 
eously. One of the men who was holding her turned away his face, 
and for this humanity he was reviled and flogged. 

All our pilgrims looked on and commented — on the expert way 
in which the w'hip was handled. They were too much hardened by 
lifelong every-day familiarity with slavery to notice that there was 
anything else in the exhibition that invited comment. This was what 
slavery could do, in the way of ossifying what one may call the supe- 
rior lobe of human feeling; for these pilgrims were kindhearted people, 
and they would not have allowed that man to treat a horse like that. 

I wanted to stop the whole thing and set the slaves free, but that 
w^ould not do. I must not interfere too much and get myself a name 
for riding over the country's laws and the citizen's rights roughshod. 



THE PILGRIMS. 265 

" How are they feeling about the calamity?" 

" None may describe it in words. The fount is these nine days dry. 
The prayers that did begin then, and the lamentations in sackcloth and 
ashes, and the holy processions, none of these have ceased nor night 
nor day; and so the monks and the nuns and the foundlings be all 
exhausted, and do hang up prayers writ upon parchment, sith that no 
strength is left in man to lift up voice. And at last they sent for thee. 
Sir Boss, to try magic and enchantment; and if you could not come, 
then was the messenger to fetch Merlin, and he is there these three 
days, now, and saith he will fetch that water though he burst the globe 
and wreck its kingdoms to accomplish it; and right bravely doth he 
work his magic and call upon his hellions to hie them hither and help, 
but not a whiff of moisture hath he started yet, even so much as might 
qualify as mist upon a copper mirror an ye count not the barrel of sweat 
he sweateth betwixt sun and sun over the dire labors of his task; and 
if ye " 

Breakfast was ready. As soon as it was over I showed to Sir Ozana 
these words which I had written on the inside of his hat: '' Chemical 
Department, Laboratory extension, Section G. Pxxp. Send tiuo of first 
size, two of No. j, and six of No. ^, together with the proper comple- 
mentary details — and tzvo of my trained assistants'' And I said: 

" Now get you to Camelot as fast as you can fly, brave knight, and 
show the writing to Clarence, and tell him to have these required mat- 
ters in the Valley of Holiness with all possible dispatch." 

" I will well, Sir Boss," and he was off 



IE 



.A 



n^ 





CHAPTER XXII. 

THE HOLY FOUNTAIN. 

HE pilgrims were human beings. Other- 
wise they would have acted differently. 
They had come a long and difficult jour- 
ne\', and now when the journey was 
nearh' finished, and they learned that 
the main thing they had come 
for had ceased to exist, they 
didn't do as horses or cats or 
angle-worms would probably 
, ' have done — turn back and get 
at something profitable — no, 
* anxious as they had before 
been to see the miraculous 
fountain, they were as much 
as forty times as anxious now 
to see the place where it had 
used to be. There is no ac- 
counting for human beings. 

We made good time; and a 
couple of hours before sunset 
we stood upon the high con- 
fines of the Valley of Holiness 
and our eyes swept it from end to end and noted its features. That 
is, its large features. These were the three masses of buildings. They 

9 269 



2/0 THE HOLY FOUNTAIN. 

were distant and isolatctl tcnii)oi'alitics shrunken to toy constructions 
in the lonely waste of what seemed a desert — and was. Such a scene 
is always mournful, it is so impressively still, and looks so steeped in 
death. But there was a sound here which interrupted the stillness only 
to add to its mournfulness; this was the faint far sound of tolling bells 
which floated fitfully to us on the passing breeze, and so faintly, so softly, 
that we hardly knew whether we heard it with our ears or with our spirits. 

We reached the monastery before dark, and there the males were 
given lodging, but the women were sent over to the nunnery. The 
bells were close at hand, now, and their solemn booming smote upon 
the ear like a message of doom. .\ superstitious despair possessed the 
heart of every monk and published itself in his ghastly face. Every- 
where, these black-robed, soft-sandled, tallow-visaged spectres ap- 
peared, flitted about and disappeared, noiseless as the creatures of a 
troubled dream, and as uncanny. 

The old abbot's joy to see me was pathetic. Even to tears; but 
he did the shedding himself. He said: 

" Delay not, son, but get to thy saving work. An we bring not the 
water back again, and soon, we are ruined, and the good work of two 
hundred years must end. And see thou do it with enchantments that 
be holy, for the Church will not endure that work in her cause be done 
by devil's magic." 

"When I work, Father, be sure there will be no devil's work con- 
nected with it. I shall use no arts that come of the devil, and no 
elements not created by the hand of God. But is Merlin working 
strictly on pious lines .' " 

"Ah, he said he would, my son, he said he would, and took oath 
to make his promise good." 

" Well, in that case, let him proceed." 

" But surely you will not sit idle by, but help.-*" 

" It will not answer to mix methods. Father; neither would it be 



THE HOLY FO UN TA LV. „ 2 7 1 

l)rofessional courtesy. Two of a trade must not under-bid each other. 
W'c miijht as well cut rates and be done with it; it would arrive at that 
m tlic end. Merlin has the contract; no other magician can touch it 
till he throws it up." 

" But I will take it from him; it is a terrible emergency and the act 
is thereby justified. And if it were not so, who will give law to the 
Church .'' The Church giveth l aw to all; a nd what she wills to d o, that 
she ma y do, hurt whom it mcU ^ iTvill take it from him; you shall be- 
:jin upon the moment." 

"It may not be, Father. No doubt, as you say, where power is 
supreme, one can do as one likes and suffer no injury; but we poor 
magicians are not so situated. Merlin is a very good magician in a 
mall way, and has quite a neat provincial reputation. He is struggling 
;ilong, doing the best he can, and it would not be etiquette for me to 
cake his job until he himself abandons it." 

The abbot's face lighted. 

" Ah, that is simple. There are ways to persuade him to aban- 
don it." 

"No-no, Father, it skills not, as these people say. If he were per- 
suaded against his will, he would load that well with a malicious 
enchantment which would balk me until I found out its secret. It 
might take a month. I could set up a little enchantment of mine 
which I call the telephone, and he could not find out its secret in a 
hundred years. Yes, you perceive, he might block me for a month. 
Would you like to risk a month in a dry time like this } " 

" A month! The mere thought of it maketh me to shudder. Have 
it thy way, my son. But my heart is heavy with this disappointment. 
Leave me, and let me wear my spirit with weariness and waiting, even 
as I have done these ten long days, counterfeiting thus the thing that 
is called rest, the prone body making outward sign of repose where 
inwardly is none." 



-'/-' 



THE HOLY FOUNTAIN. 



Of course it would have been best, all round, for Merlin to waive 
etiquette and cjuit antl call it half a da\-, since he would never be able 
to start that water, for he was a true mai^ician of the time: which is to 
say. the bit^ miracles, the ones that t^^ave him his reputation, always 
had the luck to be performed w hen nobody but Merlin was present; he 
couldn't start this well with all this crowd around to see; a crowd was 
as bad for a magician's miracle in that da\- as it was for a spiritualist's 
miracle in mine: there \\ as sure to be some skeptic on hand to turn up 
the gas at the crucial moment and spoil everything. But I did not 
w-ant Merlin to retire from the job until I was ready to take hold of it 
effectively myself; and I could not do that until I got my things from 
Camelot, and that would take two or three da\'s. 

I\Iy presence gave the monks hope, and cheered them up a good 
deal; insomuch that they ate a square meal that night for the first time 
in ten days. As soon as their stomachs had been properly reinforced 
with food, their spirits began to rise fast; when the mead began to go 
round they rose faster. By the time everybody was half-seas over, the 
holy community was in good shape to make a night of it; so we stayed 
by the board and put it through on that line. Matters got to be very 
jolly. Good old questionable stories were told that made the tears 
run down and cavernous mouths stand w^de and the round bellies shake 
with laughter; and questionable songs were bellowed out in a mighty 
chorus that drowned the boom of the tolling bells. 

At last I ventured a story myself; and vast was the success of it. 
Not right off, of course, for the native of those islands does not as 
a rule dissolve upon the early applications of a humorous thing; but 
the fifth time I told it, they began to crack, in places; the eighth 
time I told it, they began to crumble; at the twelfth repetition they 
fell apart in chunks; and at the fifteenth they disintegrated, and I got 
a broom and swept them up. This language is figurative. Those 
islanders — well, they are slow pay, at first, in the matter of return for 




"there are ways to persuade him to abandon it." 

273 



3 74 "J'^f^- fiOLY I-'O UN TA IN. 

)'our investment of effort, l)ut in the end they make the pay of all 
other nations poor and small by contrast. 

I was at the well next day betimes. Merlin was there, enchanting 
away like a beaver, but not raising the moisture. He was not in a 
pleasant humor; and every time 1 hinted that perhaps this contract was 
a shade too hefty for a novice he unlimbered his tongue and cursed 
like a bishop — French bishop of the Regency days, I mean. 

Matters were about as I expected to find them. The "fountain" 
was an ordinary well, it had been dug in the ordinary way. and stoned 
up in the ordinary way. There was no miracle about it. Even the 
lie that had created its reputation was not miraculous; I could have 
told it myself, with one hand tied behind me. The w^ell was in a 
dark chamber which stood in the centre of a cut-stone chapel, whose 
walls were hung with pious pictures of a workmanship that \vould 
have made a chromo feel good; pictures historically commemorative 
of curative miracles which had been achieved by the waters when 
nobody was looking. That is, nobody but angels : they are always 
on deck when there is a miracle to the fore — so as to get put in the 
picture, perhaps. Angels are as fond of that as a fire company; look 
at the old masters. 

The well-chamber was dimly lighted by lamps; the water was 
drawn with a windlass and chain, by monks, and poured into troughs 
which delivered it into stone reservoirs outside, in the chapel — when 
there was water to draw, I mean — and none but monks could enter 
the well-chamber. I entered it, for I had temporary authority to do 
so, by courtesy of my professional brother and subordinate. But he 
hadn't entered it himself. He did everything by incantations; he 
never worked his intellect. If he had stepped in there and used his 
eyes, instead of his disordered mind, he could have cured the well 
by natural means, and then turned it into a miracle in the customary 
way; but no, he was an oldjiuinskuU, a magician who believed in_ 



THE HOLY FOUXTAIN. 



275 



ow n mag ic; and no magician can thrive who is handicapped with a 
s I '. perstition Hke that. 

I liad an idea that the well had sprunt^ a leak; that some of the 
w;ill stones near the bottom had fallen and exposed fissures that 
allowed the water to escape. I measured the chain — 98 feet. Then I 
called in a couple of monks, locked the door, took a candle, and made 
them lower me in the bucket. When the chain was all paid out, the 
candle confirmed my suspicion; a considerable section of the wall was 
gone, exposing a good big fissure. 

I almost regretted that my theory about the well's trouble was 




"AT THE TWELFTH REPETITION THEY FELL APART IN CHUNKS. 



correct, because I had another one that had a showy point or tw^o 
about it for a miracle. I remembered that in America, many centuries 
later, when an oil well ceased to flow^ they used to blast it out with a 
dynamite torpedo. If I should find this well dry, and no explanation 
of it, I could astonish these people most nobly by having a person of 
no especial value drop a dynamite bomb into it. It was my idea to 
appoint Merlin. However, it w^as plain that there w^as no occasion for 
the bomb. One cannot have everything the way he would like it. A 
man has no business to be depressed by a disappointment, anyw^ay; 
he ought to make up his mind to get even. That is what I did. I 



2 76 THE //( )/. ) ■ FO rX'l'A /.v. 

said to m\-scir, 1 am in no Ihut}-, 1 can wait; that bomb will come , 
^ood, \ct. Antl it tlitl. ti>i). \ 

When 1 was ab(^\e ground ai^ain, I turned out tlie mr)nks, antl let 
down a fish-line: the well was a hundred and fift\' feet deep, and 
there was fort)--one feet of water in it ! 1 called in a monk and asked: 

" How deep is the well ? " 

" That, sir, I wit not, ha\ ini^' ne\"cr been told." 

" How does the water usualh' stand in it?" 

" Near to the top, these two centuries, as the testimony gocth, 
brought down to us through our predecessors." 

It was true — as to recent times at least — for there was witness to it, 
and better witness than a monk: onl\- about twenty or thirty feet of 
the chain showed wear and use, the rest of it was unworn and rusty. 
What had happened when the well ga\e out that other time ^ Without 
doubt some practical person had come along and mended the leak, 
and then had come up and told the abbot he had discovered b}- 
di\-ination that if the sinful bath were destro)-ed the well would flow- 
again. The leak had befallen again, now, and these children would 
ha\-e prayed, and processioned, and tolled their bells for heavenly 
succor till they all dried up and blew awa\", and no innocent of them 
all would ever ha\'e thought to drop a fish-line into the well or go ; 
down in it and find out what was rcalh' the matter. Old habit of : 
mind is one of the to ughest things to get away from i n the world. It 
transmits jtself like physical form and feature; and for a man, in those ■' 
days, to h ave had an idea that his ancestor s hadn't had, would have,.|, 
brought him under suspicion of being illegitimate. I said to the \ 

" It is a difificult miracle to restore water in a dr)- well, but we will 
try, if my brother Merlin fails. Brother Merlin is a very passable 
artist, but only in the parlor-magic line, and he may not succeed; in 
fact is not likely to succeed. But that should be nothing to his dis- 



THE HOL y FOUNTAIN. 2"/ J 

credit; the man that can do this kuid of miracle knows enough to 
keep hotel." 

" Hotel? I mind not to have heard " 

"Of hotel? It's what you call hostel. The man that can do this 
miracle can keep hostel. I can do this miracle; I shall do this miracle; 
yet I do not try to conceal from you that it is a miracle to tax the 
occult powers to the last strain." 

" None knoweth that truth better than the brotherhood, indeed; 
for it is of record that aforetime it was parlous difficult and took a year. 
Natheless, God send you good success, and to that end will we pray." 

As a matter of business it was a good idea to get the notion around 
that the thing was difficult. Many a small thing has been made large 
by the right kind of advertising. That monk was filled up with the 
difficulty of this enterprise; he would fill up the others. In two days 
the solicitude would be booming. 

On my way home at noon, I met Sandy. She had been sampling 
the hermits. I said: 

" I would like to do that, myself. This is Wednesday. Is there a 
matinee ? " 

"A which, please you, sir?" 

" Matinee. Do they keep open, afternoons?" 

"Who?" 

"The hermits, of course." 

" Keep open ? " 

" Yes, keep open. Isn't that plain enough ? Do they knock off at 
noon." 

"Knock off?" 

" Knock offi* — yes, knock off. What is the matter with knock off? 
I never saw such a dunderhead; can't you understand anything at all? 
In plain terms, do they shut up shop, draw the game, bank the fires — " 

" Shut up shop, draw — " 



/y 



278 77//-; HOi.V FOUN'/'A/JV. 

"There, never mintl, let it ^o; \'ou make mc tired. You can't 
seem to understand the sini))lcst thin^." 

" I uould I nii<^ht please thee, sir, and it is to me dole and sorrow- 
that 1 fail, albeit sith 1 am but a simple damsel and taut^ht of none, 
bein^' from the cradle unbaptiscd in those deep waters of learning; that 
do anoint with a sovereignt)- him that partaketh of that most noble 
sacrament, investing him with reverend state to the mental eye of the 
humble mortal who, by bar and lack of that great consecration seeth 
in his own unlearned estate but a s\'mbol of that other sort of lack and 
loss which men do publish to the pitying eye with sackcloth trappings 
wdiereon the ashes of grief do lie bcpowdered and bestrewn, and so, 
when such shall in the darkness of his mind encounter these golden 
phrases of high mystery, these shut-up-shops, and draw-the-game, 
and bank-the-fires, it is but by the grace of God that he burst not for 
envy of the mind that can beget, and tongue that can deliver so great 
and mellow-sounding miracles of speech, and if there do ensue con- 
fusion in that humbler mind, and failure to divine the meanings of these 
wonders, then if so be this miscomprehension is not vain but sooth and 
true, Avit ye well it is the very substance of w^orshipful dear homage 
and may not lightly be misprized, nor had been, an ye had noted this 
complexion of my mood and mind and understood that that I would I 
could not, and that I could not I might not, nor yet nor might 7101' 
could, nor might-not nor could-not, might be by advantage turned to 
the desired luould, and so I pray you mere}- of my fault, and that ye 
will of )'our kindness and your charity forgive it, good nny master and 
most dear lord." 

I couldn't make it all out — that is, the details — but I got the general 
idea; and enough of it, too, to be ashamed. It was not fair to spring 
those nineteenth century technicalities upon the untutored infant of the 
sixth and then rail at her because she couldn't get their drift; and 
when she was making the honest best drive at it she could, too, and no 



THE HOLY FOUNTAIN. 



279 



fault of hers that she couldn't fetch the home-plate; and so I apolo- 
g-ized. Then we meandered pleasantly away toward the hermit-holes 
in sociable converse together, and better friends than ever. 

I was gradually coming to have a mysterious and shuddery rever- 



ence for this girl; for nowa- 
pulled out from the station 
fairly started on one of those 
continental sentences of hers, 
me that I was 
ine in the 



days whenever she 
and got her train 
horizonless trans- 
it was borne in upon 




awful presence 
of the Mother of 
the German 
Language. I 
was so impress- 
ed with this, that 



p^'r ? ^^3 



"he UNLIMKEKED HIS TONGUE AND CURSED LIKE A lilSHOT." 



sometimes when she began to empty one of these sentences on me I 
unconsciously took the very attitude of reverence, and stood uncov- 
ered; and if words had been water, I had been drowned, sure. She 
had exactly the German way: whatever was in her mind to be deliv- 



2 So THE HOL Y FO UN 1 'A IN, 

ered, whether a mere remark, or a sermon, or a cyclopedia, or the his- 
tory of a war, she would got it into a single sentence or die. When- 
ever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are 
going to sec of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic 
with his verb in his mouth. 

We drifted from hermit to hermit all the afternoon. It was a most 
strange menagerie. The chief emulation among them seemed to be, 
to see which could manage to be the uncleanest and most prosperous 
with vermin. Their manner and attitudes were the last expression of 
complacent self-righteousness. It was one anchorite's pride to lie naked 
in the mud and let the insects bite him and blister him unmolested; it 
was another's to lean against a rock, all day long, conspicuous to the 
admiration of the throng of pilgrims, and pray; it was another's to go 
naked, and crawl around on all fours; it was another's to drag about 
with him, year in and year out, eighty pounds of iron; it was another's 
to never lie down when he slept, but to stand among the thorn-bushes 
and snore when there were pilgrims around to look; a woman, who 
had the white hair of age, and no other apparel, was black from crown 
to heel with forty-seven years of holy abstinence from water. Groups 
of gazing pilgrims stood around all and every of these strange ob- 
jects, lost in reverent wonder, and envious of the fleckless sanctity 
which these pious austerities had won for them from an exacting 
heaven. 

K)' and b}' we went to see one of the supremely great ones. He was 
a mighty celebrity; his fame had penetrated all Christendom; the 
noble and the renowned journeyed from the remotest lands on the 
globe to pay him reverence. His stand was in the centre of the widest 
part of the valley; and it took all that space to hold his crowds. 

His stand was a pillar sixty feet high, with a broad platform on the 
top of it. He was now doing what he had been doing every day for 
twenty years up there — bowing his bod)' ceaselessly and rapidly 



THE HOLY FO UNTA IN. 2 8 I 

■ 

almost to his feet. It was his way of praying. I timed him with a 
stop-watch, and he made 1244 revolutions in 24 minutes and 46 seconds. 
It seemed a pity to have all this power going to waste. It was one of 
the most useful motions in mechanics, the pedal-movement; so I made 
a note in my memorandum book, purposing some day to apply a sys- 
tem of elastic cords to him and run a sewing-machine with it. I after- 
wards carried out that scheme, and got five years' good service out of 
him; in which time he turned out upwards of eighteen thousand first- 
' rate tow-linen shirts, which was ten a day. I worked him Sundays 
, and all; he was going, Sundays, the same as week-days, and it was no 
j use to waste the power. These shirts cost me nothing but just the 
\ mere trifle for the materials — I furnished those myself, it would not 
I have been right to make him do that — and they sold like smoke to 
pilgrims at a dollar and a half apiece, which was the price of fifty cows 
or a blooded race-horse in Arthurdom. They were regarded as a 
perfect protection against sin, and advertised as such by my knights 
everywhere, with the paint-pot and stencil-plate; insomuch that there 
was not a cliff or a boulder or a dead-Avall in England but you could 
read on it at a mile distance: 

''Buy the only genuine St. Sty lite; patronized by the Nobility. 
Patent applied for.'' 

There was more money in the business than one knew what to do 
with. As it extended, I brought out a line of goods suitable for kings, 
and a nobby thing for duchesses and that sort, with ruffles down the 
fore-hatch and the running-gear clewed up with a feather-stitch to 
leeward and then hauled aft with a back-stay and triced up with a half- 
turn in the standing rigging forward of the weather-gaskets. Yes, it 
was a daisy. 

But about that time I noticed that the motive power had taken to 
standing on one leg, and I found that there was something the matter 
with the other one; so I stocked the business and unloaded, taking Sir 



282 THE HOI. Y FO L W TA IN. 

Bors dc Gam's into camp financially along with certain of his friends: 
for the works stopped within a year, and the good saint got him to his 
rest. But he had earned it. I can say that for him. 

When I saw him that first time — however, his personal condition 
will not quite bear description here. You can read it in the Lives of 
the Saints.* 

* All the details concerning the hermits, in this chapter, are from Lecky — but greatly 
modified. This book not being a history but only a tale, the majority of the historian's 
frank details were too strong for reproduction in it. — Editor. 




4,' 









^^i *;2.iWia 



i 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



';^^^^^^'?<'^' 



RESTORATIOX OF THE KOUXTATX. 

ATURDAY noon I went to the well and 

looked on a while. Merlin was still burnint; 

smoke - powders, and pawing the air, and 

muttering- gibberish as hard as ever, 

but looking pretty down-hearted, for of 

course he had not started even a per- 

^ N, spiration in that well yet. Finally I said: 

"How does the thing promise b\- this 

time, partner? " 

" Behold, I am even now busied with 

trial of the powerfulest enchantment 

known to the princes of the occult arts 

in the lands of the East; an it fail mc, 

naught can avail. Peace, until I finish." 

He raised a smoke this time that 

darkened all the 

region, and must 

have made matters 

uncomfortable for 

the hermits, for the 

wind was their way, 

and it rolled down 

over their 

dense and 
285 




286 KES'J'OKATIOX OF JHE FOUNTAIN. 

billowy fog. He poured out volumes of speech to match, and con- 
torted his body and sawed the air with his hands in a most extraor- 
dinary way. At the end of twenty minutes he dropped down panting, 
and about exhausted. Now arrived the abbot and several hundred 
monks and nuns, and behind them a multitude of pilgrims and a couple 
of acres of foundlings, all drawn by the prodigious smoke, and all in a 
grand state of excitement. The abbot enquired anxiously for results. 
Merlin said: 

" If any labor of mortal might break the spell that binds these 
waters, this which I have but just essayed had done it. It has failed; 
whereby I do now know that that which I had feared is a truth estab- 
lished: the sign of this failure is, that the most potent spirit known to 
the magicians of the East, and whose name none may utter and live, 
has laid his spell upon this well. The mortal does not breathe, nor 
ever will, who can penetrate the secret of that spell, and without that 
secret none can break it. The water will flow no more forever, good 
Father. I have done what man could. Suffer me to go." 

Of course this threw the abbot into a good deal of a consternation. 
He turned to me with the signs of it in his face, and said: 

" Ye have heard him. Is it true .-' " 

"Part of it is." 

" Not all, then, not all ! What part is true .' " 

" That that spirit with the Russian name has put his spell upon the 
well." 

" God's wownds, then are we ruined ! " 

"Possibly." 

"But not certainly.' Ye mean, not certainly.''" t! 

"That is it." j 

"Wherefore, ye also mean that when he saith none can break this 
spell — " 

" Yes, when he says that, he says what isn't necessarily tru€j 



HESTORATIOIV OF THE FOUNTAIN. 287 

There are conditions under which an effort to break it may have some 
chance — that is, some small, some trifling chance — of success." 

" The conditions — " 

"Oh, they are nothing difficult. Only these: I want the well and 
the surroundings for the space of half a mile, entirely to myself from 
sunset to-day until I remove the ban — and nobody allowed to cross 
the ground but by my authority." 

" Are these all ? " 

" Yes." 

" And you have no fear to try .■^ " 

"Oh, none. One may fail, of course; and one may also succeed. 
One can try, and I am ready to chance it. I have my conditions } " 

" These and all others ye may name. I will issue commandment 
to that effect." 

" Wait," said Merlin, with an evil smile. " Ye wit that he that 
would break this spell must know that spirit's name .' " 

" Yes, I know his name." 

" And wit you also that to know it skills not of itself, but ye must 
likewise pronounce it ? Ha-ha ! Knew ye that ? " 

" Yes, I knew that, too." 

" You had that knowledge ! Art a fool ? Are ye minded to utter 
! that name and die ? " 

" Utter it? Why certainly. I would utter it if it was Welsh." 

" Ye are even a dead man, then; and I go to tell Arthur." 

" That's all right. Take your gripsack and get along. The thing 
(or yoii to do is to go home and work the weather, John W. Merlin." 

It was a home shot, and it made him wince; for he was the worst 
weather-failure in the kingdom. Whenever he ordered up the dan- 
ger-signals along the coast there was a week's dead calm, sure, and 
every time he prophecied fair weather it rained brick-bats. But I kept 
him in the weather bureau right along, to undermine his reputation. 



2S8 KESTON.l /70.V O/- J'llE /VIXTA J.V. 

However, that shot raised his bile, and instead of starting home to re- 
port my death, he said he would remain and enjoy it. 

My two experts arrived in the evenin<^, and pretty well fagged, for 
they had traveled double tides. They had pack-mules along, and had | 
brought everything I needed — tools, pump, lead pipe, Greek fire, 
sheaves of big rockets, roman candles, colored-fire sprays, electric 
apparatus, and a lot of sundries — everything necessary for the state- 
liest kind of a miracle. They got their supper and a nap, and about 
midnight we sallied out through a solitude so wholly vacant and com- 
plete that it quite overpassed the required conditions. We took pos- 
session of the well and its surroundings. My boys were experts in all 
sorts of things, from the stoning up of a well to the constructing of a 
mathematical instrument. An hour before sunrise we had that leak 
mended in ship-shape fashion, and the water began to .rise. Then we 
stowed our fire-works in the chapel, locked up the place, and went 
home to bed. 

Before the noon mass was over, we were at the well again; for 
there was a deal to do, yet, and I was determined to spring the m.iracle 
before midnight, for business reasons: for whereas a miracle worked 
for the Church on a week-day is worth a good deal, it is worth six 
times as much if you get it in on a Sunday. In nine hours the water 
had risen to its customary level; that is to say, it was within twenty- 
three feet of the top. We put in a li-ttle iron pump, one of the first 
turned out by my works near the capital; we bored into a stone res- 
ervoir which stood against th-e outer wall of the well-chamber and 
inserted a section of lead pipe that was long enough to reach to the 
door of the chapel and project beyond the threshold, where the gush- 
ing water would be visible to the two hundred and fifty acres of people 
I was intending should be present on the flat plain in front of this little 
holy hillock at the proper time. 

We knocked the head out of an empty hogshead and hoisted this 



JiESrOK.t J'/O.V OF J'llE FOUXTAIX. 289 

hogshead to the flat roof of the chapel, where we chimped it down fast, 
poured in gunpowder till it lay loosely an inch deep on the bottom, 
then we stood up rockets in the hogshead as thick as they could 
loosely stand, all the different breeds of rockets there are; and they 
made a portly and imposing sheaf, I can tell you. We grounded the 
wire of a pocket electrical battery in that powder, we placed a whole 
magazine of Greek fire on each corner of the roof — blue on one corner, 
green on another, red on another, and purple on the last, and grounded 
a wire in each. 

About two hundred yards off, in the flat, we built a pen of scant- 
1 lings, about four feet high, and laid planks on it, and so made a plat- 
j form. We covered it with swell tapestries borrowed for the occasion, 
. and topped it off with the abbot's own throne. When you a re going 
to do a miracle for an ignorant race, you want to get in every detail 
that will count; you want to make all the properties impressive to the 
public ey^e;_4^Q]l_wantto^make matte rs c"omforra5Te for your head guest; 
then you can turn yourself loose and play your effects for all they are 
worth. I know the value of these things, for I know human nature. 
You can't throw too much style into a miracle. It costs trouble, and 
work, and sometimes money; but it pays in the end. Well, we brought 
the wires to the ground at the chapel, and then brought them under 
the ground to the platform, and hid the batteries there. We put a 
rope fence a hundred feet square around the platform to keep off the 
common multitude, and that finished the work. My idea was, doors 
open at 10.30, performance to begin at 11.25 sharp. I wished I could 
charge admiss-ion, but of course that wouldn't answer. I instructed my 
boys to be in the chapel as early as 10, before anybody was around, 
and be ready to ma*n the pumps at the proper time, and make the fur 
fly. Then we went home to supper. 

The news of the disaster to the well had traveled far, by this time; 
and now for two or three days a steady avalanche of people had been 



2gO 



Jl£SrO/i!.t7'/OA' OF THE FOUNTAIN. 



pouringf into the valley. The lower end of the valley was become one 
huge camp; we should have a good house, no question about that. 
Criers went the rounds early in the evening and announced the com- 
ing attempt, which [)ut every pulse up to fever-heat. They gave 
notice that the abbot and his official suite would move in state and 
occupy the platform at 10.30, up to which time all the region which 
was under my ban must be clear; the bells would then cease from toll- 
ing, and this sign should be permission to the multitudes to close in and 
take their places. 

I was at the platform and all ready to do the honors when the 




"the abbot's solemn procession." 

abbot's solemn procession hove in sight — which it did not do till it 
was nearly to the rope fence, because it was 2. starless black night and 
no torches permitted. With it came Merlin, and took a front seat on 
the platform; he was as good as his word, for once. One could not 
see the multitudes banked together beyond the ban, but they were 
there, just the same. The moment the bells stopped, those banked 
masses broke and poured over the line like a vast black wave, and for 
as much as a half hour it continued to flow, and then it solidified itself, 
and you could have walked upon a pavement of human heads to — well, 
miles. 



KESTOJiArJOX OF THE FOUNTAIN. 29 1 

We had a solemn stage-wait, now, for about twenty minutes — a 
thing I had counted on for effect; it is always good to let your audi- 
ence have a chance to work up its expectancy. At length, out of the 
silence a noble Latin chant — men's voices — broke and swelled up and 
rolled away into the night, a majestic tide of melody. I had put that 
up, too, and it was one of the best effects I ever invented. When it was 
finished T stood up on the platform and extended my hands abroad, 
for two minutes, with my face uplifted — that always produces a dead 
hugh — and then slowly pronounced this ghastly w^ord with a kind of 
awfulness which caused hundreds to tremble, and many women to faint: 

Just as I was moaning out the closing hunks of that word, I touched 
off one of my electric connections, and all that murky world of people 
stood revealed in a hideous blue glare! It was immense — that effect! 
Lots of people shrieked, women curled up and quit in every direction, 
foundlings collapsed by platoons. The abbot and the monks crossed 
themselves nimbly and their lips fluttered with agitated prayers. Mer- 
lin held his grip, but he was astonished clear down to his corns; he 
had never seen anything to begin with that, before. Now was the 
time to pile in the effects. I lifted my hands and groaned out this 
word — as it were in agony — 

"§iWUisitemlHttamittlteat^rliaf!Sitrlteus!Sijrett0ungsiattitttanjSivirisiucIt- 

— and turned on the red fire! Vou should have heard that Atlantic 
of people moan and howl when that crimson hell joined the blue ! 
After sixty seconds I shouted — 

ttauttttg$thramentragaedie! '' 

— and lit up the green fire! After waiting only forty seconds, this 



292 



KESTOKATION OF THE FObWTAIN. 



y^ time, I spread my arms abroad 

./ and thundered out the devas- 

'/.c'^ tating syllables of this word 



<^ 




44 



muttcnimrmamottttmeutemnachct I '' 

— and whirled on the purple glare ! There they 
were, all going at once, red, blue, green, purple! 
— four furious volcanoes pouring vast clouds of 
radiant smoke aloft, and spreading a blinding 
rainbowed noonday to the furthest confines of that 
valley. In the distance one could see that fellow 
on the pillar standing rigid against the back- 
ground of sky, his see-saw stopped for the first 
time in twenty years. I knew the boys were at 
the pump, now. and ready. So I said to the 
abbot : 

" The time is come, Father. I am about to pro- 
nounce the dread name and command the spell to 
dissolve. You want to brace up, and take hold of 
something." Then I shouted to the people : " Be- 
hold, in another minute the spell will be broken, or 
no mortal can break it. If it break, all will know it, 
for you will see the sacred water gush from 



"that FELLOW ON THE PIL 

LAR STANDING RIGID." the chapel door! 



RESTORATION OF THE FOUNTAIN. 



293 



I stood a few moments, to let the hearers have a chance to spread 
my announcement to those who couldn't hear, and so convey it to the 
furthest ranks, then I made a grand exhibition of extra posturing and 
gesturing, and shouted: 




" bgwjjillii;kkk! 



" Lo, I command the fell spirit that possesses the holy fountain to 
now disgorge into the skies all the infernal fires that still remain in 
him, and straightway dissolve his spell and flee hence to the pit, there 



a** 



294 ■^^^ TOR A TION OF THE FO UN TA IN. 

to lie bound a thousand years. By his own dread name I command it 
— BGWJJILLIGKKK!" 

Then 1 touched off the hogshead of rockets, and a vast fountain of 
dazzling lances of fire vomited itself toward the zenith with a hissing 
rush, and burst in mid-sky into a storm of flashing jewels! One mighty 
groan of terror started up from the massed people — then suddenly 
broke into a wild hosannah of joy — for there, fair and plain in the un- 
canny glare, they saw the freed water leaping forth ! The old abbot 
could not speak a word, for tears and the chokings in his throat; with- 
out utterance of any sort, he folded me in his arms and mashed me. It 
was more eloquent than speech. And harder to get over, too, in a 
coimtry where there were really no doctors that were worth a dam- 
aged nickel. 

You should have seen those acres of people throw themselves down 
in that water and kiss it; kiss it, and pet it, and fondle it, and talk to 
it as if it were alive, and welcome it back with the dear names they 
gave their darlings, just as if it had been a friend who was long gone 
away and lost, and was come home again. Yes, it was pretty to see, 
and made me think more of them than I had done before. 

I sent Merlin home on a shutter. He had caved in and gone down 
like a landslide when I pronounced that fearful name, and had never 
come to since. He never had heard that name before, — neither had I 
— but to him it was the right one; any jumble would have been the 
right one. He admitted, afterward, that that spirit's own mother could 
not have pronounced that name better than I did. He never could 
understand how I survived it, and I didn't tell him. It is only young 
magicians that give away a secret like that. Merlin spent three months 
working enchantments to try to find out the deep trick of how to pro- 
nounce that name and outlive it. But he didn't arrive. 

When I started to the chapel, the populace uncovered and fell back 
reverently to make a wide way for me, as if I had been some kind of a 



KES7VK.4./70A' OF THE FOUNTAIN. 295 

superior being" — and I was. I was aware of that. I took along a night- 
shift of monks, and taught them the mystery of the pump, and set them 
to work, for it was plain that a good part of the people out there were 
going to sit up with the water all night, consequcntl)^ it was but right 
that they should have all they wanted of it. To those monks that 
pump was a good deal of a miracle itself, and they were full of wonder 
over it; and of admiration, too, of the exceeding effectiveness of its 
performance. 

It was a great night, an immense night. There was reputation in 
it. I could hardly get to sleep for glorying over it. 




CHAPTER XXIV. 



A RIVAL MAGICIAN, 



Y influence in the Valley of Holiness was some- 
thing prodigious now. It seemed worth while 
to try to turn it to some valuable account. The 
thought came to me the next morning, and 
was suggested by my seeing one of my knights 
who was in the soap line come riding in. Ac- 
cording to history, the monks of this place two 
centuries before, had been worldly 
minded enough to want to wash. It 
might be that there was a leaven 
of this unrighteousness still re- 
maining. So I sounded a Brother: 
" Wouldn't you like a bath.-*" 
He shuddered at the thought 
— the thought of the peril of it to 
the well — but he said with 
feeling — 

"One needs not to ask 
that of a poor body who has 
not known that blessed re- 
freshment sith that he was 
a boy. Would God I might wash me! but it may not be, fair sir, tempt 
me not; it is forbidden." 

And then he sighed in such a sorrowful way that I was resolved he 

299 



300 ■/ Nfl'.U. MAGICIAN. 

should have at least one layer of his real estate removed, if it sized up 
my whole influence and bankrupted the pile. So I went to the abbot 
and asked for a permit for this Brother. He blenched at the idea — I 
don't mean that \'ou could see him blench, for of course you couldn't 
see it witiiout you scraped him, and 1 didn't care enough about it to 
scrape him, but I knew the blench was there, just the same, and within 
a book-cover's thickness of the surface, too — blenched, and trembled. 
He said: 

" Ah, son, ask aught else thou wilt, and it is thine, and freely granted 
out of a grateful heart — but this, oh, this! Would you drive away the 
blessed water again .'' " 

"No, Father, I will not drive it away. I have mysterious knowl- 
edge which teaches me that there was an error that other time when; 
it was thought the institution of the bath banished the fountain." A] 
large interest began to show up in the old man's face. " My knowl- 
edge informs me that the bath was innocent of that misfortune, which 
was caused by quite another sort of sin." 

" These are brave words — but — but right welcome, if they be true." 

" They are true, indeed. Let me build the bath again, Father. Let ; 
me build it again, and the fountain shall flow forever." 

" You promise this .'' — you promise it .'' Say the word — say you 
promise it ! " 

"I do promise it." 

" Then will I have the first bath myself ! Go — get ye to your work. 
Tarry not, tarry not, but go." 

I and my boys were at work, straight off. The ruins of the old bath 
were there yet, in the basement of the monastery, not a stone missing. 
They had been left just so, all these lifetimes, and avoided with a pious; 
fear, as things accursed. In two days we had it all done and the wateri; 
in — a spacious pool of clear pure water that a body could swim in. Iti 
was running water, too. ' It came in, and went out, through the anciently 

i 



A KIIAL MAGICIAN. 3OI 

pil)cs. The old abbot kept his word and was the first to try it. He 
went dcnvn bhick and shaky, leaving;- the whole black community above 
tiMubled and worried and full of bodings; but he came back white and 
i.:i\ful, and the game was made! another triumph scored. 

It was a good campaign that we made in that Valley of Holiness, 
and 1 was very well satisfied, and ready to move on, now, but I struck 
a disappointment. I caught a heavy cold, and it started up an old 
lurking rheumatism of mine. Of course the rheumatism hunted up my 
weakest place and located itself there. This was the place where the 
abbot put his arms about me and mashed me, what time he was moved 
to testify his gratitude to me with an embrace. 

When at last I got out. I was a shadow\ But everybody was full of 
attentions and kindnesses, and these brought cheer back into my life 
aiid were the right medicine to help a convalescent swiftly up toward 
health and strength again; so I gained fast. 

Sandy was worn out with nursing, so I made up my mind to turn 
out and go a cruise alone, leaving her at the nunnery to rest up. My 
idea was to disguise myself as a freeman of peasant degree and wander 
through the country a week or two on foot. This would give me a 
chance to eat and lodge with the lowliest and poorest class of free citi- 
zens on equal terms. There was no other way to inform myself per- 
fectly of their every-day life and the operation of the laws upon it. If 
I \vent among them as a gentleman, there would be restraints and con- 
ventionalities which would shut me out from their private joys and 
troubles, and I should get no further than the outside shell. 

One morning I was out on a long walk to get up muscle for my trip 
and had climbed the ridge which bordered the northern extremity of 
the valley, when I came upon an artificial opening in the face of a low 
precipice, and recognized it by its location as a hermitage which had 
often been pointed out to me from a distance, as the den of a hermit of 
high renowMi for dirt and austerity. I knew hfe had lately been offered 



;o: 



A KIWIL MAGICIAN. 



a situation in the Great Sahara, where lions and sandflies made the 
hermit-Hfe peculiarly attractive and difficult, and had gone to Africa 
to take i)ossession, so I thou<;ht 1 would look in and see how the at- 
mosphere of this den agreed with its reputation. 

My surprise was great: the place was newly swept and scoured. 

f 




"sandy was worn out with nursing." 

Then there was another surprise. Back in the gloom of the cavern I 
heard the clink of a little bell, and then this exclamation: 

''Hello, Central! Is this yoii, Canielot? Behold, thou mayst 

glad thy heart an thou hast faith to believe the w^onderful when that it 
Cometh in unexpected guise and maketh itself manifest in impossible 
places — here standeth in the flesh his mightiness The Boss, and with 
thine own ears shall ye hear him speak! " 



A A'Jl'AL MAiJICIAN. -^QX 

Now what a radical reversal of things this was; what a jumbling 
together of extravagant incongruities; what a fantastic conjunction of 
opposites and irreconcilables — the home of the bogus miracle become 
the home of a real one, the den of a medieval hermit turned into a tele- 
phone office ! 

The telephone clerk stepped into the light, and I recognized one of 
my young fellows. I said: 

" How long has this office been established here, Ulfius?" 

" But since midnight, fair Sir Boss, an it please you. We saw many 
lights in the valley, and so judged it well to make a station, for that 
where so many lights be needs must they indicate a town of goodly size." 

" Quite right. It isn't a town in the customary sense, but it's a good 
stand, anyway. Do you know where you are.'" 

" Of that I have had no time to make inquiry; for whenas my com- 
radeship moved hence upon their labors, leaving me in charge, I got 
me to needed rest, purposing to inquire when I waked, and report the 
place's name to Camelot for record." 

" Well, this is the Valley of Holiness." 

It didn't take; I mean, he didn't start at the name, as I had sup- 
posed he would. He merely said — 

" I will so report it." 

" Why, the surrounding regions are filled with the noise of late won- 
ders that have happened here ! You didn't hear of them 1 " 

"Ah. ye will remember we move by night, and avoid speech with 
all. We learn naught but that we get by the telephone from Camelot." 

" Why tJicy know all about this thing. Haven't they told you any- 
thing about the great miracle of the restoration of a holy fountain.'' " 

" Oh, that? Indeed yes. But the name of tJiis valley doth woundily 
differ from the name of tJiat one; indeed to differ wider were not pos — " 

" What was that name, then.-*" 

" The Valley of Hellishness." 



304 



./ RIVAL MAGICIAN. 



" lliat explains it. Confound a telephone, artyWay. It is the very 
demon for conveying similarities of sound that arc miracles of diver- 
gence from similarity of sense. But no matter, you know the name of 
the place now. Call up Camelot." 

He did it, and had Clarence sent for. It was good to hear my boy's j 
voice again. It was like being home. After some affectionate inter- 
changes, and some account of my late illness, I said: 

" What is new .'"' 

" The king and queen and many of the court do start even in thi.s 
hour, to go to your Valley to pay pious homage to the waters ye have 
restored, and cleanse themselves of sin, and see the place where the 
infernal spirit spouted true hell-flames to the clouds — an ye listen 
sharply ye may hear me wink and hear me likewise smile a smile, 
sith 'twas I that made selection of those flames from out our stock and 
sent them by your order." 

" Does the king know the way to this place.-*" 

" The king.' — no, nor to any other in his realms, mayhap; but the 
lads that holp you with your miracle will be his guide and lead the way, 
and appoint the places for rests at noons and sleeps at night." 

" This will bring them here — when.'*" 

" Mid-afternoon, or later, the third day." 

"Anything else in the way of news.''" 

''The king nath begun the raising of the standing army ye sug- 
gested to him; one regiment is complete and officered." 

" The mischief! I wanted a main hand in that, myself. There is 
only one body of men in the kingdom that are fitted to officer a regu- 
lar army." 

" Yes — and now ye will marvel to know there's not so much as one 
West Pointer in that regiment." 

" What are you talking about.' Are you in earnest.'" 

" It is truly as I have said." 



A RIVAL magic/an: 



305 



"Why, this makes me un- 
what was the method? Compet- 

" Indeed I know naught of 
know this — these officers be all 
are born — what is it you call it? 

' ' There's s o m e t h i n ij 

"Comfort yourself, then; 
dates for a lieutenancy do 
with the king — young nobles 
you but wait where you 
hear them q u e s - 

" That is news to 
I will get one West 
an}'way. . Mount a man 
with a mes- 
necessary, 
set to-night ,f7^^f^ 

"There is 
w ire to the 
n e c t you 

It sound- 



easy. 



Who were chosen, and 

itive examination?" 

the method. I but 

of noble family, and 

— chuckleheads." 

wrong, Clarence." 

for two candi- 

travel hence 

both- — and if 

are you will 

tioned. 

the purpose. 

Pointer in, 

^ and send him to that school 

''f sage ; let him kill horses, if 

but he must be there before sun- 

and say — " 

no need. I have laid a ground 
school. Prithee let me con- 

with it." 
ed good ! In this atmosphere 
of telephones and lightnmg^^communication with distant regions, I was 
breathing the breatlL^ofJife agaiii_jifterlon g suffoc ation. I reahzed, 
thenTwhat a creepy, dull, inamniaJ£_Jiorror this land had been to me 
all these years, and how I had been in such a stifle^_CDJixiLtion of-mind 
as to har\ 



m used to it almostbeyond__Lb£_power to notice it. 
I gaveTTTjTorder to the superintendent of the Academy personally. 
I also asked him to bring me some paper and a fountain pen and a bo.\: 
or so of safety matches. I was getting tired of doing without these con- 
veniences. I could have them, now, as I wasn't going to wear armor 
any more at present, and therefore could get at m)- pockets. 




306 A RIVAL MAGICIAN. 

W'licn 1 s^'ot back to tlic monastery, I found a thiny; of interest {^oin^ 
on. The abbot and his monks were assembled in the great hall, 
observinj^- with cliildish wonder and faith the performances of a new 
magician, a fresh arrival. His dress was the extreme of the fantastic; 
as showy and foolish as the sort of thing an Indian medicine-man wears. 
He was mowing, and mumbling, and gesticulating, and cirawing mys- 
tical figures in the air and on the floor, — the regular thing, you know. 
He was a celebrity from Asia — so he said, and that was enough. That 
sort of evidence was as good as gold, and passed current everywhere. 

How easy and cheap it was to be a great magician on this fellow's 
terms. His specialty was to tell you what any individual on the face 
of the globe was doing at the moment; and what he had done at any 
time in the past, and what he would do at any time in the future. He 
asked if any would like to know what the Emperor of the East was 
doing now.^ The sparkling eyes and the delighted rubbing of hands 
made eloquent answer — this reverend crowd zvould like to know what 
that monarch was at, just at this moment. The fraud went through 
some more mummery, and then made grave announcement: 

"The high and mighty Emperor of the East doth at this moment 
put money in the palm of a holy begging friar — one, two, three pieces, 
and they be all of silver." 

A buzz of admiring exclamations broke out, all around: 

"It is marvelous!" "Wonderful!" "What study, what labor, to 
have acquired a so amazing power as this! " 

Would they like to know what the Supreme Lord of Inde was doing.^ 
Yes. He told them what the Supreme Lord of Inde was doing. Then 
he told them what the Sultan of Egypt was at; also what the King of 
the Remote Seas^was about. And so on and so on; and with each new 
marvel the astonishment at his accuracy rose higher and higher. They 
thought he must surely strike an uncertain place sometime; but no, he 
never had to hesitate, he always knew, and always with unerring pre- 



A RIVAL MAGICIAN. 



V^l 



cision. I saw that if this thing went on I should lose my supremacy, 
this fellow would capture my following, I should be left out in the cold. 
I must put a cog in his wheel, and do it right away, too. I said: 

" If I might ask, I should very greatly like to know what a certain 
person is doing." 

*' Speak, and freely. I will tell you." 

" It will be difficult — perhaps impossible." 

" My art knoweth not that word. The more difficult it is, the more 
certainly will I reveal it to you." 

You see, I was working up the interest. It was getting pretty high, 
too; you could see that by the craning necks all around, and the half 
suspended breathing. So now I climaxed it: 

" If you make no mistake — if you tell me truly what I want to know 
— I will give you two hundred silver pennies." 

" The fortune is mine! I will tell you what you would know." 

" Then tell me what I am doing with my right hand." 

" Ah-h! " There was a general gasp of surprise. It had not occurred 
I to anybody in the crowd^that simple trick of inquiring about some- 
I body who wasn't ten thousand miles away. The magician was hit hard; 
\ it was an emergency that had never happened in his experience before, 
I and it corked him; he didn't know how to meet it. He looked stunned, 
confused; he couldn't say a word. "Come," I said, "what are you 
waiting for.^ Is it possible you can answer up, right off, and tell what 
anybody on the other side of the earth is doing, and yet can't tell what 
a person is doing who isn't three yards from you.^ Persons behind me 
j know what I am doing with my right hand — they will endorse you if 
you tell correctly." He was still dumb. " Very well, I'll tell you why 
you don't speak up and tell; it is because you don't know. Yoit a 
magician! Good friends, this tramp is a mere fraud and liar." 

This distressed the monks and terrified them. They were not used 
to hearing these awful beings called names, and the>- did not know 



3o8 ^ RIVAL MAGICFAM. 

what mi^ht bo the consequence. There was a dead silence, now; 
superstitious bodings were in every mind. The magician began to pull 
his wits together, and when he presently smiled an easy, nonchalant 
smile, it spread a mighty relief around; for it indicated that his mood 
was not destructive. He said: 

" It hath struck me speechless, the frivolity of this person's speech. 
Let all know, if perchance there be any who know it not, that enchan- 
ters of my degree deign not to concern themselves with the doings of 
any but Kings, Princes, Emperors, them that be born in the purple and 
them only. Had ye asked me what Arthur the great king is doing, it 
were another matter, and I had told ye; but the doings of a subject 
interest me not." 

" Oh, I misunderstood you. I thought you said 'anybody,' and so 
I supposed 'anybody' included — well, anybody; that is, everybody." 

"It doth — anybody that is of lofty birth; and the better if he be 
royal." 

" That, it meseemeth, might well be," said the abbot, who saw his 
opportunity to smooth things and avert disaster, " for it were not likeh' 
that so wonderful a gift as this would be conferred for the revelation of 
the concerns of lesser beings than such as be born near to the summits 
of greatness. Our Arthur the king — " 

" Would you know of him.-'" broke in the enchanter. 

" Most gladly, yea, and gratefully." 

Everybody was full of awe and interest again, right away, the incor- 
rigible idiots. They watched the incantations absorbingly, and looked 
at me with a " There, now, what can you say to that.' " air, when the 
announcement came: 

"The king is weary with the chase, and lieth in his palace these 
« 
two hours sleeping a dreamless sleep." 

"God's benison upon him! " said the abbot, and crossed himself; 

" may that sleep be to the refreshment of his body and his soul." 



A RIVAL MAGICIAN. 



309 



"And so it might be, if he were sleeping," I said, "but the king is 
not sleeping, the king rides." 

Here was trouble again — a conflict of authority. Nobody knew 
which of us to believe; I still had some reputation left. The magi- 
cian's scorn was stirred, and he said: 

" Lo, I have seen many wonderful soothsayers and prophets and 
magicians in my life-days, but none before that could sit idle and see 
to the heart of things with never an incantation to help." 

" You have lived in the woods, and lost much by it. I use incanta- 
tions myself, as this good brotherhood are aware — but only on occa- 
sions of moment." 

When it comes to sarcasaming, I reckon I know how to keep my 
end up. That jab made this fellow squirm. The abbot inquired after 
the queen and the court, and got this information: 

" They be all on sleep, being overcome by fatigue, like as to the 
king." 

I said: 

" That is m.erely another lie. Half of them are about their amuse- 
ments, the queen and the other half are not sleeping, they ride. Now 
perhaps you can spread yourself a little, and tell us where the king 
and queen and all that are this moment riding with them are going .''" 

" They sleep now, as I said; but on the morrow they will ride, for 
they go a journey toward the sea." 

" And where will they be the day after to-morrow at vespers. '*" 

" Far to the north of Camelot, and half their journey will be done." 

" That is another lie, by the space of a hundred and fifty miles. 
Their journey will not be merely half done, it will be all done, and 
they will be Jiere, in this valley." 

That was a noble shot! It set the abbot and the monks in a 
whirl of excitement, and it rocked the enchanter to his base. I fol- 
lowed the thing right up: 



lO 



.-/ KIIAL MAGICIAN. 



" If the kin^^ docs not arrive, I will have myself ridden on a rail; if 
he does I will ride you on a rail instead." 

Next day I went up to the telephone office and found that the king- 
had passed through two towns that were on the line. I spotted his 
progress on the succeeding day in the same way. I kept these mat- 
ters to myself. The third day's reports showed that if he kept up his 
gait he would arrive by four in the afternoon. There was still no sign 




THE FALSE PROPHET GOING TO MEET THE KING. 



anywhere of interest in his coming; there seemed to be no preparations 
making to receive him in state; a strange thing, truly. Only one thing 
could explain this: that other magician had been cutting under me, 
sure. This was true. I asked a friend of mine, a monk, about it, and 
he said, yes, the magician had tried some further enchantments and 
found out that the court had concluded to make no journey at all, but 
stay at home. Think of that! Observe how much a reputation was 



A RIVAL MAGICIAN. 



311 



worth in such a country. These people had seen me do the very show- 
iest bit of magic in history, and the only one within their memory that 
had a positive value, and yet here they were, ready to take up with an 
adventurer who could offer no evidence of his powers but his mere 
unproven word. 

However, it was not good politics to let the king come without any 
fuss and feathers at all, so I went down and drummed up a procession 
of pilgrims and smoked out a batch of hermits and started them out at 
two o'clock to meet him. And that was the sort of state he arrived in. 
The abbot was helpless with rage and humiliation when I brought 
him out on a balcony and showed him the head of the state marching 
in and never a monk on hand to offer him welcome, and no stir of life 
or clang of joy-bell to glad his spirit. He took one look and then flew 
to rouse out his forces. The next minute the bells were dinning furi- 
ously, and the various buildings were vomiting monks and nuns, who 
went swarming in a rush toward the coming procession; and with 
them went that magician — and he was on a rail, too, by the abbot's 
order; and his reputation was in the mud, and mine was in the sky 
again. Yes, a man can keep his trade-mark current in such a country,/ 
but he can't sit around and do it; he has got to be on deck and attend- 
ing to business, right along. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION. 

|HEN the king traveled for change of air, or 

made a progress, or visited a distant noble 

whom he wished to bankrupt with the cost 

of his keep, part of the administration 

moved with him. It was a fashion of the 

time. The Commission charged with the 

candidates for posts 
came with the king 
to the Valley, 
whereas they could 
have transacted their 
business just as well 
at home. And al- 
though this expedi- 
tion was strictly a 
holiday excursion for 
the king, he kept 
some of his business 
functions going, just 
the same. He touch- 
ed for the evil, as 
usual; he held 
court in the 

gate at sunrise and tried cases, for he was himself Chief Justice of the 
King's Bench. 

315 




\ 



316 f A CO Ml' KTITIVE EXAMINATION. 

He shone very well in this latter office. He was a wise and humane 
judge, and he clearly did his honest best and fairest, — according to his 
lights. That is a large reservation. His lights— I mean his rearing — 
often colored his decisions. Whenever there was a dispute between a 
noble or gentleman and a person of lower degree, the king's leanings 
and sympathies were for the former class always, whether he suspected 
it or not. It was impossible that this should be otherwise. The blunt- 
ing effects of slavery upon the slaveholder's moral perceptior^s^are 
known and conceded, the world over; and a privileged class, an aris- 



tocracy7Ts'l3ut a band oT'sTavelrolHe Ts^und eF another name. This has 

a harsh somiHV and yet should not be offensive to any — even to the 

iioble himself — unless the fact itself be an offense: for the statemenj; 

f simply formulates a fact. The repulsive feature of slavery is the thing, 

I np.t its name. One needs but to hear"lCTha4stocrat -speak of the classes 

\ that are below him to recognize — and in but indifferently modified 

' measure — the very air and tone of the actual slaveholder; and behind 

these are the slaveholder's spirit, the slaveholder's blunted feeling. 

They are the result of the same cause in both cases: the possessor's old 

and inbred custom of regarding himself as a superior being. The 

king's judgments wrought frequent injustices, but it was merely the 

fault of his training, his natural and unalterable sympathies. He was 

as unfitted for a judgeship as would be the average mother for the 

position of milk-distributor to starving children in famine-time; her 

own children would fare a shade better than the rest. 

One very curious case came before the king. A young girl, an 
orphan, who had a considerable estate, married a fine young fellow 
who had nothing. The girl'c property was within a seignory held 
by the Church. The bishop of the diocese, an arrogant scion of the 
great nobility, claimed the girl's estate on the ground that she had 
married privately, and thus had cheated the Church out of one of its 
rights as lord of the seignory — the one heretofore referred to as le droit 



A COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION. 



n 



die seigneur. The penalty of refusal or avoidance was confiscation. 
The jj^irl's defence was, that the lordship of the seignory was vested in 
the bishop, and the particular right here involved was not transferable, 
but must be exercised by the lord himself or stand vacated; and that 
an older law, of the Church itself, strictly barred the bishop from exer- 
cising it. It was a very odd case, indeed. 

It reminded me of something I had read in my youth about the 
ingenious way in which the aldermen of London raised the money that 
built the Mansion House. A person who had not taken the Sacrament 
according to the Anglican rite, could not stand as a candidate for 
sheriff of London. Thus Dissenters were ineligible; they could not 
run if asked, they could not serve if elected. The aldermen, who 
without any question were Yankees in disguise, hit upon this neat 
device: they passed a by-law imposing a fine of ;^40O upon any one 
who should refuse to be a candidate for sheriff, and a fine o{ £600 upon 
any person who, after being elected sheriff, refused to serve. Then 
they went to work and elected a lot of Dissenters, one after another, 
and kept it up until they had collected ^15,000 in fines; and there 
stands the stately Mansion House to this day, to keep the blushing 
citizen in mind of a long past and lamented day when a band of 
Yankees slipped into London and played games of the sort that has 
given their race a unique and shady reputation among all truly good 
and holy peoples that be in the earth. 

The girl's case seemed strong to me; the bishop's case was just as 
strong. I did not see how the king was going to get out of this hole. 
But he got out. I append his decision: 

"Truly I find small difficulty here, the matter being even a child's 
affair for simpleness. An the young bride had conveyed notice, as in. 
duty bound, to her feudal lord and proper master and protector the 
bishop, she had suffered no loss, for the said bishop could have got a 
dispensation making him, for temporary conveniency, eligible to the 



o 



r 

I 8 A COMPETTTIVE EXAMTNATFON: 



exercise of his said right, and thus would she have kept all she had. 
Whereas, failing in her first duty, she hath by that failure failed in all; 
for whoso, clinging to a rope, severeth it above his hands, must fall; 
it being no defence to claim that the rest of the rope is sound, neither 
any deliverance from his peril, as he shall find. Pardy, the woman's 
case is rotten at the source. It is the decree of the Court that she 
forfeit to the said lord bishop all her goods, even to the last farthing 
that she doth possess, and be thereto mulcted in the costs. Next ! " 

Here was a tragic end to a beautiful honeymoon not yet three 
months old. Poor young creatures! They had lived these three 
months lapped to the lips in worldly comforts. These clothes and 
trinkets they were wearing were as fine and dainty as the shrewdest 
stretch of the sumptuary laws allowed to people of their degree; and 
in these pretty clothes, she crying on his shoulder, and he trying to 
comfort her with hopeful words set to the music of despair, they 
went from the judgment seat out into the world homeless, bedless, 
breadless; why, the very beggars by the roadsides were not so poor 
as they. 

Well, the king was out of the hole; and on terms satisfactory to 
the Church and the rest of the aristocracy, no doubt. Men write many 
fine and plausible arguments in support of monarchy, but the fact re- 
^^^mains that where every man inj j. State haa a vot^", hmt-^^ ij^''^ are im- 
y/T' possible. Arthur's people were of course poor material for a republic, 
because they had been debased so long by monarchy; and yet even they 
would have been intelligent enough to make short work of that law which 
the king had just been administering if it had been submitted to their 
full and free vote. There is a phrase which has grown so common in 
the world's mouth that it has come to seem to have sense and meaning 
— the sense and meaning implied when it is used: that is the phrase 
which refers to this or that or the other nation as possibly being " ca- 
pable of self-government; " and the implied sense of it is, that there has 



3 20 A ( oMri-: irni k kxa mina 7/0 jv. 

been a nation somewhere, sometime or other whicli wasn't capable of 
it — wasn't as able to ;^o\ern itself as some self-appointed specialists 
were or would be to govern it. The master minds of all nations, in all 
ages, have sprung in affluent muftitude from the mass oTthe nation, 
and" from the mass of the na tion on1y= ^iiul fium ita piivileug d classes; 
and soTTfb matter what the nation's intellectual grade was, whether 
high or low, the bulk of its ability was in tKe long ranks of its name-' 
less' and its poor, and so it never saw the day that it had not the 
material in abundance whereby to govern itself. Which is to assert 
an always self-proven fact: that even the best governed and most free 
and most enlightened monarchy is still behind the best condition at- 
tainable by its people; and that the same is true of kindred govern- 
ments of lower grades, all the way down to the lowest. 

King Arthur had hurried up the army business altogether be}'ond 
my calculations. I had not supposed he would move in the matter 
while I was away; and so I had not mapped out a scheme for deter- 
mining the merits of officers; I had only remarked that it would be 
wise to submit every candidate to a sharp and searching examination; 
and privately I meant to put together a list of military qualifications 
that nobody could answer to but my West Pointers. That ought to 
have been attended to before I left; for the king was so taken with 
the idea of a standing army that he couldn't wait but must get about it 
at once, and get up as good a scheme of examination as he could in- 
vent out of his own head. 

I was impatient to see what this was; and to show, too, how much 
more admirable was the one which I should display to the Examining 
Board. I intimated this, gently, to the king, and it fired his curiosity. 
When the Board w^as assembled, I followed him in, and behind us 
came the candidates. One of these candidates was a bright young 
West Pointer of mine, and with him were a couple of my West Point 
professors. 



A COMPE TIT I VE EX A MINA TION. 3 2 I 

When I saw the Board, I did not know whether to cry cr to laugh. 
The head of it was the officer known to later centuries as Norroy 
King-at-Arms! The two other members were chiefs of bureaux in 
his department; and all three were priests, of course; all officials who 
had to know how to read and write were priests. 

My candidate was called first, out of courtesy to me, and the head 
of the Board opened on him with official solemnity: 
" Name } " 
" Mal-ease." 
" Son oP. " 
" Webster." 

"Webster — Webster. Hm — I — my memory faileth to recall the 
name. Condition.' " 
" Weaver." 

" Weaver! — God keep us! " 

The king was staggered, from his summit to his foundations; one 
clerk fainted, and the others came near it. The chairman pulled him- 
j self together, and said indignantly: 
! " It is sufficient. Get you hence." 

i But I appealed to the king. I begged that my candidate might be 

! examined. The king was willing, but the Board, who were all well- 

ji born folk, implored the king to spare them the indignity of examin- 

I ing the weaver's son. I knew they didn't know enough to examine 

I him anyway, so I joined my prayers to theirs and the king turned the 

I duty over to my professors. I had had a blackboard prepared, and it 

was put up now, and the circus began. It was beautiful to hear the 

|1 lad lay out the science of war, and wallow in details of battle and 

I seige, of supply, transportation, mining and countermining, grand 

j tactics, big strategy and little strategy, signal service, infantry, cavalry, 

! artillery, and all about seige guns, field guns, gatling guns, rifled guns, 

smooth bores, musket practice, revolver practice — and not a solitary 

10* 



^ COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION. 



word of it all could these catfish make head or tail of, you understand 
— and it was handsome to see him chalk off mathematical nightmares 
on the blackboard that would stump the angels themselves, and do it 
like nothing, too — all about eclipses, and comets, and solstices, and 
constellations, and mean time, and sidereal time, and dinner time, and 
bedtime, and every other imaginable thing above the clouds or under 
them that you could harry or bullyrag an enemy with and make him 
wish he hadn't come— and when the boy made his military salute and 
stood aside at last, I was proud enough to hug him, and all those other 




NOT A WORD OF IT ALL COULD THESE CAT-FISH MAKE HEAD OR TAIL OF.' 



people were so dazed they looked partly petrified, partly drunk, and 
wholly caught out and snowed under. I judged that the cake was 
ours, and by a large majority. 

Education is a great thing. This was the same youth who had come 
to West Point so ignorant that when I asked him, " If a general officer 
should have a horse shot under him on the field of battle, what ought 
he to do.-*" answered up naively and said: 

" Get up and brush himself." 



!^ 



A COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION. -> 2 '' 

One of the young nobles was called up, now. I thought I would 
question him a little myself. I said: 

" Can your lordship read .?" 

His fiice flushed indignantly, and he fired this at me: 

" Takest me for a clerk.' I trow I am not of a blood that — " 

"Answer the question ! " 

He crowded his wrath down and made out to answer " No." 

" Can you write .''" 

He wanted to resent this, too, but I said: 

"You will confine yourself to the questions, and make no com- 
ments. You are not here to air your blood or your graces, and noth- 
ing of the sort will be permitted. Can you write.''" 

"No." 

" Do you know the multiplication table.''" 

" I wit not what ye refer to." 

" How much is 9 times 6 } " 

" It is a mystery that is hidden from me by reason that the emer- 
gency requiring the fathoming of it hath not in my life-days occurred, 
and so, not having no need to know this thing, I abide barren of the 
knowledge." 

"If A trade a barrel of onions to B, worth 2 pence the bushel, in 
exchange for a sheep worth 4 pence and a dog worth a penny, and C 
kill the dog before delivery, because bitten by the same, who mistook 
him for D, what sum is still due to A from B, and which party pays for 
the dog, C, or D, and who gets the money.' if A, is the penny suffi- 
cient, or may he claim consequential damages in the form of additional 
money to represent the possible profit which might have inured from 
the dog, and classifiable as earned increment, that is to say, usufruct.'" 

" Verily, in the all-wise and unknowable providence of God, who 
moveth in mysterious ways his wonders to perform, have I never heard 
the fellow to this question for confusion of the mind and congestion of 



324 A COMPEl ■/ / ■/ / E EX A A//A 'A TIOI^. 

the ducts of thought. Wherefore I beseech you let the dog and the 
onions and these people of the strange and godless names work out 
their several sahations from their piteous antl wonderful difficulties 
without hcl[) of mine, for indeed their trouble is sufficient as it is, where- 
as an I tried to help I should but damage their cause the more and yet 
ma\hap not live myself to see the desolation wrought." 

" What do you know of the laws of attraction and gravitation?" 

" If there be such, mayhap his grace the king did promulgate them, 
whilst that I lay sick about the beginning of the year and thereby failed 
to hear his proclamation." 

" What do you know of the science of optics.'' " 

" I know of governors of places, and seneschals of castles, and sher- 
iffs of counties, and man}' like small offices and titles of honor, but him 
you call the Science of Optics I have not heard of before; peradventure 
it is a new dignity." 

" Yes, in this country." 

Try to conceive of this mollusk gravely applying for an official posi- 
tion, of an\' kind under the sun! Why, he had all the ear-marks of a 
type-writer copyist, if you leave out the disposition to contribute unin- 
vited emendations of your grammar and punctuation. It was unaccount- 
able that he didn't attempt a little help of that sort out of his majestic 
supply of incapacity for the job. But that didn't prove that he hadn't 
material in him for the disposition, it only proved that he wasn't a type- 
writer copyist yet. After nagging him a little more, I let the professors 
loose on him and they turned him inside out, on the line of scientific 
war, and found him empty, of course. He knew somewhat about the 
warfare of the time — bushwhacking around for ogres, and bull-fights in 
the tournament ring, and such things — but otherwise he was empty and 
useless. Then w^e took the other young noble in hand, and he was the 
first one's twin, for ignorance and incapacity. I delivered them into the 
hands of the chairman of the Board with the comfortable consciousness 



II 



A COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION: 



125 



that their cake was dough. They were examined in the previous order 
of precedence. 

" Name, so please you.'' " 

" Pertipole, son of Sir Pertipole, Baron of Barley Mash." 

" Grandfather.'' " 

" Also Sir Pertipole, Baron of Barley Mash." 

" Great-grandfather.^ " 

" The same name and title." 

" Great-great-grandfather.'' " 

" We had none, worshipful sir. the line failing before it had reached 
so far back." 

" It mattereth not. It is a good four generations, and fulfilleth the 
requirements of the rule." 

" P'ulfills what rule.''" I asked. 

"The rule requiring four generations of nobility or else the candi- 
date is not eligible." 

" A man not eligible for a lieutenancy in the army unless he can 
prove four generations of noble descent.'' " 

" P3ven so; neither lieutenant nor an}' other officer may be commis- 
sioned without that qualification." 

" Oh come, this is an astonishing thing. What good is such a qual- 
ification as that.''" 

"What good.' It is a hardy question, fair sir and Boss, since it 
doth go far to impugn the wisdom of even our holy Mother Church her- 
self." 

" As how.'" 

" For that she hath established the self-same rule regarding saints. 
By her law none may be canonized until he hath lain dead four gen- 
erations." 

" I see, I see — it is the same thing. It is wonderful. In the one 
case a man lies dead-alive four generation.s — mummified in ignorance 



%26 



A COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION. 



and sloth — and that quaHfics him to command live people, and take 
their weal and woe into his impotent hands; and in the other case, a 
man lies bedded with death and worms four generations, and that qual- 
ifies him for office in the celestial camp. Does the king's grace ap- 
prove of this strange law?" 

The king said: 

" Wh\-. truly I see naught about it that is strange. All places of 
honor and of profit do belong, by natural right, to them that be of 




DECORATIONS OF SIXTH CENTURY ARISTOCRACY. 



noble blood, and so these dignities in the army are their property and 
would be so without this or any rule. The rule is but to mark a limit. 
Its purpose is to keep out too recent blood, which would bring into 
contempt these offices, and men of lofty lineage would turn their backs 
and scorn to take them. I were to blame an I permitted this calamity. 
Yoii can permit it an you are minded so to do, for you have the dele- 
gated authority, but that the king should do it were a most strange 
madness and not comprehensible to any." 

" I yield. Proceed, sir Chief of the Herald's College." 



r 



A COMPETITIVE examination: 



Z^7 



The chairman resumed as follows: 

" By what illustrious achievement for the honor of the Throne and 
State did the founder of your great line lift himself to the sacred dig- 
nity of the British nobility?" 

" He built a brewery." 

" Sire, the Board finds this candidate perfect in all the requirements 
and qualifications for military command, and doth hold his case open 
for decision after due examination of his competitor." 

The competitor came forward and proved exactly four generations 
of nobility himself. So there was a tie in military qualifications that far. 

He stood aside, a moment, and Sir Pertipole was questioned fur- 
ther: 

"Of what condition was the wife of the founder of your line.-'" 

" She came of the highest landed gentry, yet she was not noble; 
she was gracious and pure and charitable, of a blameless life and char- 
acter, insomuch that in these regards was she peer of the best lady in 
the land." 

" That will do. Stand down." He called up the competing lord- 
ling again, and asked: "What was the rank and condition of the 
great- grandmother who conferred British nobihty upon your great 
house.'" 

" She was a king's leman and did climb to that splendid eminence 
by her own unholpen merit from the sewer where she was born." 

" Ah, this indeed is true nobility, this is the right and perfect inter- 
mixture. The lieutenancy is yours, fair lord. Hold it not in contempt; 
it is the humble step which will lead to grandeurs more worthy of the 
splendor of an origin like to thine." 

I was down in the bottomless pit of humiliation. I had promised 
mj'self an easy and zenith-scouring triumph, and this was the outcome! 

I was almost ashamed to look my poor disappointed cadet in the 
face. I told him to go home and be patient, this wasn't the end. 



328 A COMPE TJJ'Jl 'E KXA MINA TlON. 

I had a private audience with the kin<j, and made a proposition. I 
said it was quite rij^ht to officer that reijimcnt with nobihties, and he 
couldn't have done a wiser thin^. It would also be a good idea to add 
fi\c hundred officers to it; in fact, add as man)' officers as there were 
nobles antl rclati\'es of nobles in the country. e\'en if there should 
finally be five times as many officers as privates in it; and thus make 
it the crack regiment, the envied regiment, the King's Own regiment, 
and entitled to fight on its own hook and in its own way, and go 
whither it would and come when it pleased, in tim.e of war, and be ut- 
terly swell and independent. This would make that regiment the 
heart's desire of all the nobility, and they would all be satisfied and 
happy. Then we would make up the rest of the standing army out of 
commonplace materials, and officer it with nobodies, as was proper — 
nobodies selected on a basis of mere efficiency — and we would make 
this regiment toe the line, allow it no aristocratic freedom from re- 
straint, and force it to do all the work and persistent hammering, to 
the end that whenever the King's Own was tired and wanted to go off 
for a change and rummage around amongst ogres and hav^e a good time, 
it could go without uneasiness, knowing that matters were in safe 
hands behind it, and business going to be continued at the old stand, 
same as usual. The king was charmed with the idea. 

When I noticed that, it gave me a valuable notion. I thought I saw 
my way out of an old and stubborn difficulty at last. You see, the 
royalties of the Pendragon stock were a long-lived race and very fruit- 
ful. Whenever a child was born to any of these — and it was pretty 
often — there was wild joy in the nation's mouth, and piteous sorrow in 
the nation's heart. The joy was questionable, but the grief was honest. 
Because the event meant another call for a Royal Grant. Loiig was the 
list of these royalties, and they were a heavy and steadily increasing 
burden upon the treasury and a menace to the crown. Yet Arthur could 
not believe this latter fact, and he would not listen to any of my vari-; 



i\ 



r 



A COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION. 



ous projects for substituting something in the place of the royal grants. 
If I could have persuaded him to now and then provide a support for 
one of these outlying scions from his own pocket, I could have made 
a <^5-rand to-do over it, and it would have had a good effect with the 
nation; but no, he wouldn't hear of such a thing. He had something 
like a religious passion for a royal grant; he seemed to look upon it as 
a sort of sacred swag, and one could not irritate him in any way so 
quickly and so surely as by an attack upon that venerable institution. 
If 1 ventured to cautiously hint that there was not another respectable 
family in England that would humble itself to hold out the hat — how- 
ever, that is as far as I ever got; he always cut me short, there, and 
peremptorily, too. 

But I believed I saw my chance at last. I would form this crack 
regiment out of officers alone — not a single private. Half of it should 
consist of nobles, who should fill all the places up to Major General, 
and serve gratis and pay their own expenses; and they would be glad 
to do this when they should learn that the rest of the regiment would 
consist exclusively of princes of the blood. These princes of the blood 
should range in rank from Lieutenant General up to Field Marshal, 
and be gorgeously salaried and equipped and fed by the state. More- 
over — and this was the master stroke — it should be decreed that these 
princely grandees should be always addressed by a stunningly gaudy 
and awe-compelling title, (which I would presently invent,) and they 
and they only in all England should be so addressed. Finally, all 
princes of the blood should have free choice : join that regiment, 
get that great title, and renounce the royal grant, or stay out and re- 
ceive a grant. Neatest touch of all: unborn but imminent princes 
of the blood could be born into the regiment, and start fair, with 
good wages and a permanent situation, upon due notice from the 
parents. 

All the boys would join, I was sure of that; so, all existing grants 



_ \i\*± 



A CO MP J-: ■nrn '/•: kxa m/xa y -/on: 



would be relinquished; that the newly born would always join was 
equally certain. Within sixty days that quaint and bizarre anomaly, 
the Royal Grant, would cease to be a livini,^ fact, and take its place 
amoni^ the curiosities of the past. 










^ 



-b' 



fe 



CHAPTER XXVI. 



tr 



THE FIRST NEWSPAPER. 

HEN I told the king I was going out dis- 
guised as a petty freeman to scour the 
country and familiarize myself with the 
humbler life of the people, he was all 
afire with the novelty of the thing in a 
was bound to take a chance in the adven- 
self — nothing should stop him — he would 



minute, and 
ture him- 

drop everything and go along — it was the prettiest idea he 
had run across for many a day. He wanted to glide out 
the back way and start at once; but I showed him that 
that wouldn't answer. You see, he was billed for the 
king's-evil- — to touch for it, I mean — and it wouldn't be 
^j right to disappoint the house; and it wouldn't make a de- 
lay worth considering, anyway, it was only a one-night 
stand. And I thought he ought to tell the queen he was 
going away. He clouded up at that, and looked sad. I was 
sorry I had spoken, especially when he said mournfully: 

"Thou forgettest that Launcelot is here; and where 
Launcelot is, she noteth not the going forth of the king, nor 
what day he returneth." 

Of course I changed the subject. Yes, Guene- 
ver was beautiful, it is true, but take her all around 
she was pretty slack. I never meddled in these 
matters, they weren't my affair, but I did hate to 

333 



334 



TlfF. FIRST NEWSPAPER. 



sec tlic way things were going on, and I don't mind saying that much. 
Many's the time she had asked me, "Sir Boss, hast seen Sir Launcelot 
about?" but if ever she went Irctting around for the king I didn't hap- 
pen to be around at the time. 

There was a very good Lay-out for the king's-evil business — very 
tidy and creditable. The king sat under a canopy of state, about him 

were clustered a large body of the clergy 
j'n full canonicals. Conspicuous, both for 
location and personal outfit, stood Mari- 
nel, a hermit of the quack-doctor spe- 
cies, to introduce the sick. All abroad 
over the spacious floor, and clear down 
to the doors, in a thick jumble, lay or 
sat the scrofulous, under a strong light. 
It was as good as a tableau; in fact it 
had all the look of being gotten up 
for that, though it wasn't. There were 
eight hundred sick people present. 
The work was slow; it lacked the in- 
terest of novelty for me, because I 
had seen the ceremonies before; the 
thing soon became tedious, but the 
NOT THE GOING FORTH OF THE proprictics required me to stick it 

out. The doctor was there for the 
reason that in all such crowds there were many people who only 
imagined something was the matter with them, and many w^ho were 
consciously sound but wanted the immortal honor of fleshly contact 
with a king, and yet others who pretended to illness in order to get 
the piece of coin that went with the touch. Up to this time this coin 
had been a wee little gold piece worth about a third of a dollar. When 
you consider how much that amount of money would buy, in that age 




"WHERE LAUNCELOT IS, SHE NOTETH 



THE FfRST MKWSFAPER. 335 

and country, and how usual it was to be scrofulous, when not dead, 
you will understand that the annual king's-evil appropriation was just 
the River and Harbor bill of that government for the grip it took on 
the treasury and the chance it afforded for skinning the surplus. So I 
had privately concluded to touch the treasury itself for the king's-evil. 
I covered sixth-sevenths of the appropriation into the treasury a week 
before starting from Camelot on my adventures, and ordered that the 
other seventh be inflated into five-cent nickels and delivered into the 
hands of the head clerk of the King's Evil Department; a nickel to 
take the place of each gold coin, you see, and do its work for it. It 
might strain the nickel some, but I judged it could stand it. As a rule, 
I do not approve of watering stock, but I considered it square enough 
in this case, for it was just a gift, anyway. Of course you can water a 
gift as much as you want to; and I generally do. The old gold and 
silver coins of the country were ot ancient and unknown origin, as a 
rule, but some of them were Roman; they were ill shapen, and seldom 
rounder than a moon that is a week past the full; they were hammered, 
not minted, and they were so worn with use that the devices upon them 
were as illegible as blisters, and looked like them. I judged that a 
sharp, bright new nickel, with a first-rate likeness of the king on one 
side of it and Guenever on the other, and a blooming pious motto, 
would take the tuck out of scrofula as handy as a nobler coin and please 
the scrofulous fancy more; and I was right. This batch was the first 
it was tried on, and it worked to a charm. The saving in expense was 
a notable economy. You will see that by these figures: We touched 
a trifle over 700 of the 800 patients; at former rates, this would have 
cost the government about $240; at the new rate we pulled through 
for about $35, thus saving upward of $200 at one swoop. To appreciate 
the full magnitude of this stroke, consider these other figures: the 
annual expenses of a national government amount to the equivalent of 
a contribution of three days' average wages of every individual of the 



;^;^6 THE FIRS T NE WSPA PER. 

population, countinfj[ every individual as if he were a man. If you take 
a nation of 60,000,000 where average wages are $2 per day, three days' 
wages taken from each individual will provide $360,000,000 and pay the 
government's expenses. In my da\', in m}' own country, this money 
was collected from imposts, and the citizen imagined that the foreign 
importer paid it, and it made him comfortable to think so; whereas, in 
fact, it was paid by the American people, and was so equally and 
exactly distributed among them that the annual cost to the loo-mill- 
ionaire and the annual cost to the sucking child of the day laborer was 
precisely the same — each paid $6. Nothing could be equaler than that, 
I reckon. Well, Scotland and Ireland were tributary to Arthur, and 
the united populations of the British Islands amounted to something 
less than 1,000,000. A mechanic's average wage was 3 cents a day, 
when he paid his own keep. B}- this rule, the national government's 
expenses were $90,000 a }-ear, or about $250 a day. Thus, b}- the sub- 
stitution of nickels for gold on a king's-evil day, I not only injured no 
one, dissatisfied no one, but pleased all concerned and saved four-fifths 
of that day's national expense into the bargain — a saving which would 
have been the equivalent of $800,000 in m}' da}- in America. In mak- 
ing this substitution I had drawn upon the wisdom of a very remote 
source — the wisdom of my bo}'hood — for the true statesman does not 
despise any wisdom, howsoever lowly may be its origin: in my boy- 
hood I had always saved vcvy pennies and contributed buttons to the 
foreign missionary cause. The buttons would answer the ignorant 
savage as well as the coin, the coin would answer me better than the 
buttons; all hands were happy and nobody hurt. 

Marinel took the patients as they came. He examined the can- 
didate; if he couldn't qualify he was warned off; if he could he was 
passed along to the king. A priest pronounced the words, " They shall 
lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Then the king 
stroked the ulcers, wdiile the reading continued; finally, the patient 



THE FIRST NEWSPAPER. 



graduated and got his nickel — the king hanging it around his neck 
himself — and was dismissed. Would you think that that would cure? 
It certainly did. Any mummery will cure 
if the patient's faith is strong in it. Up by 
Astolat there was a chapel where the Vir- 
gin had once appeared to a girl who used 
to herd geese around there — the girl said 
so herself — and they built the chapel 
upon that spot and hung a picture in it 
representing the occurrence — a picture 
which you would think it dangerous for 
a sick person to approach; whereas, on 
the contrary, thousands of 



the lame and the sick 
came and prayed before 
it every year and went 
away whole and sound; and 
even the well could look 
upon it and live. Of course 
when I was told these 
things I did not believe 
them; but when I 
went there and 
saw them I had 
to succumb. I 
saw the cures ef- 
fected myself; and 
they were real 
cures and not 
questionable. I saw cripples whom I had seen around Camelot for 
years on crutches, arrive and pray before that picture, and put down 




" HAST SEEN SIR I.AUNCELOT ABOUT?' 






THE FIKST XEIVSPATER. 




their crutches and walk off without a limp. There were piles of crutches 
there which had been left by such people as a testimony. 

In other places people operated on a patient's mind, without saying 
a word to him, and cured him. In others, experts assembled patients 
in a room and prayed over them, and appealed to their faith, and those 
patients went away cured. Wherevcj^ XP'^ fi'"^*^ ^ ^^ '"^ \\\\o can't cure 
thcJdngV-cvil you can be sure that the most valuable superstition that 
supporisJiis- 



=^the subject's belief in_the diviixe appuirftment of 
his sovereign — has passed away. In my 



youth the monarchs of England had 
ceased to touch for the evil, but there 
was no occasion for this diffidence : they could 
have cured it forty-nine times in fifty. 

I, when the priest had been droning for 
three hours, and the good king polish- 
ing the evidences, and the sick were 
still pressing forward as plenty as 
ever, I got to feeling intolerably bored. 
I was sitting by an open window not 
far from the canopy of state. For tlie five 
hundredth time a patient stood forward 

" IT WAS DELICIOUS TO SHE ^^ ^^ ^^^^'^ ^^'^ repulsivcncsses stroked; 

A NEWSPAPER AGAIN." __^^ again those words were being dron- 
ed out: "they shall lay their hands on the sick" — when outside there 
rang clear as a clarion a note that enchanted my soul and tumbled 
thirteen worthless centuries about my ears: " Camelot Weekly Hosan- 
naJt and Literajy Volcano! — latest irruption — only two cents — all 
about the big miracle in the Valley of Holiness!" One greater than 
kings had arrived — the newsboy. But I was the only person in all 
that throng who knew the meaning of this mighty birth, and what this 
imperial magician was come into the world to do. 




THE FIRST NEWSPAPER. 



339 



I dropped a nickel out of the window and got my paper; the Adam- 
newsboy of the world went around the corner to get my change; is 
around the corner yet. It was delicious to see a newspaper again, yet 
I was conscious of a secret shock when my eye fell upon the first batch 
of display head-lines. I had lived in a clammy atmosphere of rever- 
ence, respect, deference, so long, that they sent a quivery little cold 
wave through me: 

HIGH TIMES IN THE VALLEY 
OF HOLINESS! 

THE WATER-^ORKS CORKED 1 

2KER MERLIN WORKS HIS ArTS,JbUT GETS 

Left 1 
But t he Boss scores on his first Inning's ! 



The jMi>-(XCHlous Well Uncorked amid 

aivful outbursts of 
INFERNAL FIRE AND SMOKE 

ANDTHUNDER ! 



THE a'JZZARD-ROOST ASTONISHED'. 



UNPARALLELED REJOIBINGS 



— and so on, and so on. Yes, it was too loud. Once I could have en- 
joyed it and seen nothing out of the way about it, but now its note was 
discordant. It was good Arkansas journalism, but this was not Arkan- 
sas. Moreover, the next to the last line was calculated to give offense 
to the hermits, and perhaps lose us their advertising. Indeed, there 



340 THE FIRST NF.U'SPAPER. 

was too lightsome a tone of flippanc}' all through the paper. It was 
plain I had undergone a considerable change without noticing it. I 
found myself unpleasantly affected by pert little irreverencies which 
would ha\'e seemed but proper and airy graces of speech at an earlier 
period of m\' life. There was an abundance of the followin<^ breed of 
items, and the}' discomforted me: 

Local Smoke a^id Cinders. 

Sir Launceioj met up with ol'. King 
ygrivance of Ireland unexpectedly last 
veok over on the moor south of Sir 
Balmoral le Merveilleuse's hog dasture. 
The widow has been notified. 

Expedition No. 3 will start adout the 
first of nextjngnth'on a search f8r Sir 
Sagramour le Desirous. It is in com- 
and of the renowned Knight of the Red 
Lawns, assissted by Sir Persant of Inde, 
who is competeQt, intelligent, courte- 
ous, and in ever}' .way a brirk, and fur- 
tner assisted by Sir Palamides the Sara- 
cen, who is no huckleberry himself. 
This is no pic-nic, these boys wean 
busine&s. 

The readers of the Hosannah will re- 
gret to learn that the hadndsome and 
popular Sir Charolais of Gaul, who dur- 
ing his four weeks' stay at the Bull and 
Halibut, this^city, has won every heart 
by his polished manners and elegant 
clnversation, will pull out to-day for 
home. Give us another call, Charley \ 

The business end of the funeral ot 
the late Sir Dalliance the dukes son of 
Cornwall, killed in an encounter with 
the Giant of the Knotted Bludgeon last 



THE FIRS T NE IV SPA PER. 3 4 1 

j^uesuay on the borders of the Plain of 
EnchariLment was in the hands of the 
ever affable and eijyc lent (^Mumble, 
prince of unjertakers, than whom there 
exists none by whom it were a more 
satisfying pleasure to have the last sad 
offices performed. Give him a trial. 

The cordial thanks of the Hc'sannah 
office are due, from editor down to 
devil, to the ever courteous and thought- 
ful Lord High Stev^^_of the Palace's 
Thrid Assistant ^j^t for several sau- 
cefs of ice crEan^fr a quality calculated 
to make the e^j of the recipients hu- 
mid with g^dtude; and it done it. 
When this Administration wants to 
chalk up a desirable nawe for early 
promotion, the Hosannah would like a 
chance to sudgest. 

The Demoiselle Irene ^ewlap, of 
South Astolat, is visiting her uncle, the 
popular host of the Cattlemen's Board- 
ing Ho&se, Liver Lane, this city. 

Young Barker the bellows-mender is 
hoMe again, and looks much improved 
by his vacation round-up among the 
out-lying smithies, gee his ad. 

Of course it was good enough journalism for a beginning; I knew 
that quite well, and yet it was somehow disappointing. The " Court 
Circular" pleased me better; indeed its simple and dignified respect- 
fulness was a distinct refreshment to me after all those disgraceful 
familiarities. But even it could have been improved. Do what one 
may, there is no getting an air of variety into a court circular, I acknowl- 
edge that. There is a profound monotonousness about its facts that 
baffles and defeats one's sincerest efforts to make them sparkle and 



342 THE FIRST NEWSPAPER. 

enthuse. The best way to niiinage — in tact, the onl}' sensible way — is 
to disguise rcpctitiousness of fact under variety of form: skin your fact 
each time and lay on a new cuticle of words. It deceives the eye; you 
think it is a new fact; it gives you the idea that the court is carrying 
on like everything; this excites you, and you drain the whole column, 
with a good appetite, and perhaps never notice that it's a barrel of soup 
made out of a single bean. Clarence's way was good, it was simple, it 
was dignified, it was direct and business-like; all I say is, it was not 
the best way: 

Court Circular- 

On Monday, the ^\xi% rode in the park. 

" Tuesday, " " " 

'•' Wendesday " " " 

" Thursday " " ^ 

" Friday, '' " '• 

" Sarurday " " " 

'' Sundas, '' " " 

However, take the paper by and large, I was vastly pleased with it. 
Little crudities of a mechanical sort were observable here and there, 
but there were not enough of them to amount to anything, and it was 
good enough Arkansas proof-reading, anyhow, and better than was 
needed in Arthur's day and realm. As a rule, the grammar was leaky 
and the construction more or less lame; but I did not much mind these 
things. They are common defects of my own, and one mustn't criticise 
other people on grounds where he can't stand perpendicular himself. 

I was hungry enough for literature to want to take down the whole! 
paper at this one meal, but I got only a few bites, and then had to post-j 
pone, because the monks around me besieged me so with eager ques- 
tions: What is this curious thing.' What is it for.' Is it a handkerchiePl 
— saddle blanket.' — part of a shirt.' What is it made of.' How thin it 
is, and how dainty and frail; and how it rattles. Will it wear, do yoi 



THE FIRST NEWSPAPER. 



34: 



think, and won't the rain injure it? Is it writing that appears on it, or 
is it only ornamentation? They suspected it was writing, because those 
among them who knew how to read Latin and had a smattering of 
Greek, recognized some of the letters, but they could make nothing 

out of the result as a whole. I put my information 

in the simplest form I could: 

" It is a public journal; I will explain what that 

is, another time. It is not cloth, it is made of paper; 
some time I will explain what 

/>". ,P'^'' ^' paper is. The lines on it are 




reading mat- 
written by 



ter; and not 
hand, but print- 
ed; by and by I 
will explain 
what printing is. 
A thousand of 
these sheets 
have been 
made, all 
exactly like 
this, in every 



SOLID COMFORT. 



minute detail — they can't be told apart." Then they all broke out 

vv'ith exclamations of surprise and admiration: 

"A thousand! Verily a mighty work — a year's work for many 

men." 

" No — merely a day's work for a man and a boy." 

They crossed themselves, and whiffed out a protective prayer or two. 



" Ah-h — a miracle, a wondcil D.iik work of enchantment." 
I let it 140 at that. Then I reail in a low voice, to a.s many as could 
crowd their shaven heads within hearing distance, part of the account 
of the miracle of the restoration of the well, and was accompanied by 
astonished and reverent ejaculations all through: " Ah-h-h! " " How 
true! " " Amazing, amazing! " " These be the very haps as they hap- 
pened, in marvelous exactness!" And might they take this strange 
thing in their hands, and feel of it and examine it'' — they would be 
very careful. Yes. So they took it, handling it as cautiously and de- 
voutly as if it had been some holy thing come from some supernatural 
region; and gently felt of its texture, caressed its pleasant smooth sur- 
face with lingering touch, and scanned the mysterious characters with 
fascinated eyes. These grouped bent heads, these charmed faces, these 
speaking eyes — how beautiful to me! For was not this my darling, and 
was not all this mute wonder and interest and homage a most eloquent 
tribute and unforced compliment to it.^ I knew, then, how a mother 
feels when women, whether strangers or friends, take her new baby, 
and close themselves about it with one eager impulse, and bend their 
heads over it in a tranced adoration that makes all the rest of the uni- 
verse vanish out of their consciousness and be as if it were not, for that 
time. I knew how she feels, and that there is no other satisfied ambi- 
tion, whether of king, conqueror or poet, that ever reaches halfway to 
that serene far summit or yields half so divine a contentment. 

During all the rest of the seance my paper traveled from group to 
group all up and down and about that huge hall, and my happy eye 
was upon it always, and I sat motionless, steeped in satisfaction, drunk 
with enjoyment. Yes, this was heaven; I was tasting it once, if I 
might never taste it more. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

THE YANKEE AND THE KING TRAVEL 
INCOGNITO. 

BOUT bedtime I took the king to my private 
quarters to cut his hair and help him get the 
hang of the lowly raiment he was to wear. The 
high classes wore their hair banged across the 
forehead but hanging to the shoulders the rest 
of the way around, whereas the lowest ranks of 
commoners were banged fore and aft both; the 
slaves were bangless, and allowed their hair free 
growth. So I inverted a bowl over his head and cut 
away all the locks that hung below it. I also trimmed 
his whiskers and moustache until they were only 
about a half inch long; and tried to do it inartisti- 
cally, and succeeded. It was a villanous disfigure- 
ment. When he got his lubberly sandals on, and 
) his long robe of coarse brown linen cloth, which 
) hung straight from his neck to his ankle-bones, he 
was no longer the comeliest man in his kingdom, 
but one of the unhandsomest and most com- 
monplace and unattractive. We were dressed 
and barbered alike, and could pass for small 
farmers, or farm bailiffs, or shepherds, or car- 
ters; yes, or for village artisans, if we chose, 
our costume being in effect universal among the poor, because of its 
strength and cheapness. I don't mean that it was really cheap to a 




348 THE YANKEE A XD THE KING TRAVEL INCOGNITO. 

xcxy poor [)crson, but I tlo mean that it was the cheapest ma- 
terial there was for male attire — manufactured material, you under- 
stand. 

We slipped awa)- an hour before dawn, and b)' broad sun-up had 
made eiy;ht or ten miles, and were in the midst of a sparsely settled 
country. I had a prett>' heav)' knapsack; it was laden with provisions 
— provisions for the king- to taper down on, till he could take to the 
coarse fare of the countr)' without damage. 

I found a comfortable seat for the king by the roadside, and then 
gave him a morsel or two to stay his stomach with. Then I said I 
would find some water for him, and strolled away. Part of my project 
was to get out of sight and sit down and rest a little myself. It had 
always been my custom to stand, when in his presence; even at the 
council board, except upon those rare occasions when the sitting v/as 
a ver)' long one, extending over hours; then I had a trifling little back- 
less thing which was like a reversed culvert and was as comfortable as 
the toothache. I didn't want to break him in suddenly, but do it by 
degrees. We should have to sit together now when in company, or 
people would notice; but it would not be good politics for me to be 
playing equality w^ith him when there was no necessity for it. 

I found the water, some three hundred yards away, and had been 
resting about twenty minutes, when I heard voices. That is all right, 
I thought — peasants going to work; nobody else likely to be stirring 
this early. But the next moment these comers jingled into sight 
around a turn of the road — smartly clad people of quality, with lug- 
gage-mules and servants in their train! I was off like a shot, through 
the bushes, by the shortest cut. For a while it did seem that these 
people would pass the king before I could get to him; but desperation 
gives you wings, you know, and I canted my body forward, inflated my 
breast, and held my breath and flew I arrived. And in plenty good 
enough time, too. 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING TRAVEL INCOGNITO. 349 

" Pardon, my king, but it's no time for ceremony — ^jump! Jump to 
)-our feet — some qualit)- are coming!" 

" Is that a marvel? Let them come." 

"But my liege! You must not be seen sitting. Rise! — and stand 
in humble posture while they pass. You are a peasant, you know." 

" True — I had forgot it, so lost was I in planning of a huge war 
with Gaul" — he was up by this time, but a farm could have got up 
quicker, if there was any kind of a boom in real estate — "and 
right-so a thought came randoming overthwart this majestic dream 
the which — " 

"A humbler attitude, my lord the king — and quick! Duck your 
head! — more! — still more! — droop it!" 

He did his honest best, but lord it was no great things. He looked 
as humble as the leaning tower at Pisa. It is the most you could say 
of it. Indeed it w^as such a thundering poor success that it raised won- 
dering scowls all along the line, and a gorgeous flunkey at the tail end 
of it raised his whip; but I jumped in time and was under it when it 
fell; and under cover of the volley of coarse laughter which followed, I 
spoke up sharply and warned the king to take no notice. He mas- 
tered himself for the moment, but it was a sore tax; he wanted to eat 
up the procession. I said: 

" It would end our adventures at the very start; and we, being with- 
out weapons, could do nothing with that armed gang. If we are going 
to succeed in our emprise, we must not only look the peasant but act 
the peasant." 

"It is wisdom; none can gainsay it. Let us go on, Sir Boss. I will 
take note and learn, and do the best I may." 

He kept his word. He did the best he could, but I've seen better. 
If you have ever seen an active, heedless, enterprising child going dili- 
gently out of one mischief and into another all day long, and an anx- 
ious mother at its heels all the while, and just saving it by a hair from 



350 



/•///•; v.iXhi:/: Axn rm: kixg traiei. ixcognito. 



clrownin;^ itself or hrcakini;- its neck w ith each new experiment, }-ou'\-c 
seen the kinj^ and me. 

If I could have foreseen what the tlnni^- was going to be like, I 
should have said, No, if anybod>- wants to make his living exhibiting 
a king as a peasant, let him take the la)out; I can do better with a 
menagerie, and last longer. And )ct, during the first three days I 
never allowed him to enter a hut or other dwelling. If he could pass 
muster anywhere, during his early noviciate, it would be in small inns 
and on the road; so to these places we confined ourselves. Yes, he 
ccrtainU' did the best he could, but what of that.' He didn't improve 
a bit that I could see. 

He was always frightening mc, always breaking out with fresh 
astonishers, in new and unexpected places. Toward evening on the 
second day, what does he do but blandly fetch out a dirk from inside 
his robe! 

"Great guns, my liege, where did you get that.'" 

" From a smuggler at the inn, }-ester eve." 

"What in the world possessed you to buy it?" 

" We hav^e escaped divers dangers b\- wit — thy wit — but I have 
bethought me that it were but prudence if I bore a weapon, too. Thine 
might fail thee in some pinch." 

" But people of our condition are not allowed to carry arms. What 
would a lord say — yes, or any other person of whatever condition — if 
he caught an upstart peasant with a dagger on his person.'" 

It was a lucky thing for us that nobody came along just then. I 
persuaded him to throw the dirk away; and it w as as easy as persuad- 
ing a child to give up some bright fresh new way of killing itself. Wc 
walked along, silent and thinking. Finally the king said: 

" When ye know that I meditate a thing inconvenient, or that hath 
a peril in it, why do you not warn me to cease from that project.''" 

It was a startling question, and a puzzler. I didn't quite know how 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING TRAVEL INCOGNITO. 



151 



to take hold of it, or what to say, and so of course I ended by saying 

the natural thing: 

" But sire, how can /know what your thoughts are?" 
The king stopped dead in his tracks, and stared at me. 




"why do ye not warn me to cease?" 



" I believed thou wert greater than Merlin; and truly in magic thou 
art. But prophecy is greater than magic. Merlin is a prophet." 

I saw I had made a blunder. I must get back my lost ground. 
After deep reflection and careful planning, I said: 



352 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING TRA VEL INCOGNITO. 



" Sire, I have been misunderstood. I will ex[)lain. There arc 
two kinds of prophecy. One is the Ljift to foretell things that 
arc but a little way off, the other is the gift to foretell things that 
arc whole ages and centuries away. Which is the mightier gift, 
do you think ?" 

" Oh, the last, most surely!" 

"True. Does Merlin possess it.^" 

" Partly, yes. He foretold mysteries about my birth and future 
kingship that were twenty years away." 

" Has he ever gone beyond that.'*" 

" He would not claim more, I think." 

"It is probably his limit. All prophets have their limit. The limit 
of some of the great prophets has been a hundred years." 

" These are few, I ween." 

" There have been two still greater ones, whose limit was four hun- 
dred and six hundred years, and one whose limit compassed even seven 
hundred and twenty." 

" Gramercy, it is marvelous!" 

"But what are these in comparison with me.'' They are nothing." 

"What.'' Canst thou truly look beyond even so vast a stretch of 
time as — " 

"Seven hundred years.'* My liege, as clear as the vision of an 
eagle does my prophetic eye penetrate and lay bare the future of this 
world for nearly thirteen centuries and a half!" 

My land, you should have seen the king's eyes spread slowly open, 
and lift the earth's entire atmosphere as much as an inch ! That set- 
tled Brer Merlin. Onejie\^rJiad^ail>LO£cas iotT' toj)roveJ iisJacis.^\vith 

these peo ple: all J i£_ Jiad to do was to st ate j them. It_ii£A"ei_occi^'red 

to^nybodyto do_u bt the ^ tatejn£nt. 

" Now, then," I continued, " I could \noxV both kinds of prophecy — 
the long and the short — if I chose to take the trouble to keep in prac- 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING TRAVEL INCOGNITO. 



35. 



tice; but I seldom exercise any but the long kind, because the other 
is beneath my dignity. It is propercr to Merlin's sort — stump-tail 
prophets, as we call them in the profession. Of course I whet up now 
and then and flirt out a minor prophecy, but not often ^ — hardly 
ever, in fact. You will remember that there was great talk, when 
you reached the Valley of Holiness, about my having prophecied 
your coming and the very hour of your arrival, two or three days 
beforehand." 

" Indeed, yes, I mind it now." 

"Well, I could have done it as much as forty times easier, and 
piled on a thousand times more detail into the bargain, if it had been 
five hundred years away instead of two or three days." 

" How amazing that it should be so !" 

" Yes, a genuine expert can always foretell a thing that is five hun- 
dred years away easier than he can a thing that's only five hundred 
seconds off." 

"And yet in reason it should clearly be the other way: it should 
be five hundred times as easy to foretell the last as the first, for indeed 
it is so close by that one uninspired might almost see it. In truth the 
law of prophecy doth contradict the likelihoods, most strangely mak- 
ing the difficult easy, and the easy difficult." 

It was a wise head. A peasant's cap was no safe disguise for it; 
you could know it for a king's, under a diving bell, if you could hear it 
work its intellect. 

I had a new trade, now, and plenty of business in it. The king 
was as hungry to find out everything that was going to happen 
during the next thirteen centuries as if he were expecting to live 
in them. From that time out, I prophecied myself bald-headed try- 
ing to supply the demand. I have done some indiscreet things in 
my day, but this thing of playing myself for a prophet was the 
worst. Still, it had its ameliorations. A prophet doesn't have to 



^54 '^'^^^^ YANKEE AND THE KING TRAVEL INCOGNITO. 

have any brains. They are good to have, of course, for the ordinary 
exigencies of life, but they are no use in professional work. It is 
the restfulest vocation there is. When the spirit of prophecy comes 
upon you, you merely cake your intellect and~Tay Tr"oirin a cool 
place for a rest, and unship your jaw alid leav^t~alone; it will woYk 
itself: the result is prophecy. "~ 

Every day a knight errant or so came along, and the sight of them 
fired the king's martial spirit every time. He would have forgotten 
himself, sure, and said something to them in a style a suspicious shade 
or so above his ostensible degree, and so I always got him well out of 
the road in time. Then he would stand, and look with all his eyes; 
and a proud light would flash from them, and his nostrils would inflate 
like a war-horse's, and I knew he was longing for a brush with them. 
But about noon of the third day I had stopped in the road to take a 
precaution which had been suggested by the whip-stroke that had fal- 
len to my share two days before; a precaution which I had afterward 
decided to leave untaken, I was so loath to institute it; but now I had 
just had a fresh reminder: while striding heedlessly along, with jaw 
spread and intellect at rest, for I was prophecying, I stubbed my toe 
and fell sprawling. I was so pale I couldn't think, for a moment; then 
I got softly and carefully up and unstrapped my knapsack. I had that 
dynamite bomb in it, done up in wool, in a box. It was a good thing 
to have along; the time would come when I could do a valuable mira- 
cle with it, maybe, but it was a nervous thing to have about me, and I 
didn't like to ask the king to carry it. Yet I must either throw it away 
or think up some safe way to get along with its society. I got it out 
and slipped it into my scrip, and just then, here came a couple of 
knights. The king stood, stately as a statue, gazing toward them — 
had forgotten himself again, of course — and before I could get a word 
of warning out, it was time for him to skip, and well that he did it, too. 
He supposed they would turn aside. Turn aside to avoid trampling 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING TRAVEL INCOGNITO 355 

peasant dirt under foot ? When had he ever turned aside himself — or 
ever had the chance to do it, if a peasant saw him or any other noble 
knii^ht in time to judiciously save him the trouble ? The knights paid 
no attention to the king at all; it was his place to look out himself, and 
if he hadn't skipped he would have been placidly ridden down, and 
laughed at besides. 

The king was in a flaming fury, and launched out his challenge 
and epithets with a most royal vigor. The knights were some little 
distance by, now. They halted, greatly surprised, and turned in their 
saddles and looked back, as if wondering if it might be worth while 
to bother with such scum as we. Then they wheeled and started for us. 
Not a moment must be lost. I started for tJiem. I passed them at a 
1 rattling gait, and as I went by I flung out a hair-lifting soul-scorching 
thirteen-joipted insult which made the king's effort poor and cheap by 
comparison. 1 got it out of the nineteenth century where they know 
how. They had such headway that they were nearly to the king be- 
fore they could check up; then, frantic with rage, they stood up their 
horses on their hind hoofs and whirled them around, and the next 
moment here they came, breast to breast. I was seventy yards off, 
then, and scrambling up a great boulder at the roadside. When they 
were within thirty yards of me they let their long lances droop to a 
level, depressed their mailed heads, and so, with their horse-hair 
plumes streaming straight out behind, most gallant to see, this light- 
ning express came tearing for me! When they were within fifteen yards, 
I sent that bomb with a sure aim, and it struck the ground just under 
the horses' noses. 

Yes, it was a neat thing, very neat and pretty to see. It resembled 
a steamboat explosion on the Mississippi; and during the next fifteen 
minutes we stood under a steady drizzle of microscopic fragments of 
knights and hardware and horse-flesh. I say we, for the king joined 
the audience, of course, as soon as he had got his breath again. There 



:.5^> 



THE VAXKEE AXD THE KIXi.; JKA VEI. /XCOCXJJ'O. 



was a hole tlicrc which would afford steady work for all the people in 
that region for some years to come — in trying to explain it, I mean; as 
for filling it up, that service would be comparatively prompt, and would 



^ ,i|.iii/W/#/ 




ANOTHER MIRACLE. 



fall to the lot of a select few — peasants of that seignory; and they 
wouldn't get anything for it, either. 

But I explained it to the king myself I said it was done w^ith a 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING TRAVEL INCOGNITO. 357 

dynamite bomb. This information did him no damage, because it left 
him as intelHgent as he was before. However, it was a noble miracle, 
in his eyes, and was another settler for Merlin. I thought it well 
enough to explain that this was a miracle of so rare a sort that it 
couldn't be done except when the atmospheric conditions were just 
right. Otherwise he would be encoring it every time we had a good 
subject, and that would be inconvenient, because I hadn't any more 
bombs along. 



11* 




fef spirit: hka.t <5o^&\ v^aW bi/(,^oL«n.\ 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

DRILLING THE KING. 

|N the morning of the fourth day, when it was just 
sunrise, and we had been tramping an hour 
in the chill dawn, I came to a resolution: the 
king imist be drilled; things could not goon 
so, he must be taken in hand and deliberately 
and conscientiously drilled, or we couldn't ever 
venture to enter a dwelling; the very cats would know 
this masquerader for a humbug and no peasant. So I 
called a halt and said: 
"Sire, as between clothes and countenance, you are 
all right, there is no discrepancy; but as between your 
lothes and your bearing, you are all wrong, there is a 
lost noticeable discrepancy. Your soldierly stride, your 
lordly port — these will not do. You stand too straight, 
your looks are too high, too confident. The c ares of a _ 
:ingd om j o_jio ^ stoop the sh oulders, they do not droop 
the chin, they do not depress the high level of the eye- 
glance, they do not put doubt and fear in the heart and 
hang out the signs of them in slouching body and unsure 
step. It is the sordid cares of the lowly born that do these 
things. You must learn the trick; you must imitate the 
trade-marks of poverty, misery, oppression, insult, and the other sev- 
eral and common inhumanities that sap the manliness out of a man 

and make him a loyal and proper and approved subject and a satisfac- 

361 




DRILLING THE KING. 



tion to his masters, or the very infants will know you for better than 
your disguise, and we shall go to pieces at the first hut we stop at. 
Pray try to walk like this." 

The king took careful note, and then tried an imitation. 

" Pretty fair — pretty fair. Chin a little lower, please — there, very 
good. Eyes too high; pray don't look at the horizon, look at the 
ground, ten steps in front of you. Ah — that is better, that is very 
good. Wait, please; you betray too 
much vigor, too much decision; you 
want more of a shamble. Look at 
me, please — this is what I mean. 

Now you are getting it; 

that is the idea — at least, it sort 
of approaches it. . 
Yes, that is pretty 
fair. But ! 




" VARLET, SERVE TO ME 
WHAT CHEER YE HAVE." 



There is a great big some- 



thing wanting, I don't quite know what 
it is. Please walk thirty yards, so that I 

^et a perspective on the thing Now, 

then — your head's right, speed's right, shoulders right, 
eyes right, chin right, gait, carriage, general style right — everything's 
right! And yet the fact remains, the aggregate's wrong. The account 
don't balance. Do it again, please .... noiv I think I begin to see 
what it is. Yes, I've struck it. You see, the genuine spiritlessness is 
wanting; that's what's the trouble. It's all amateiiv — mechanical de- 
tails all right, almost to a hair; everything about the delusion perfect, 
except that it don't delude." 



DRILLING THE KING. 



36: 



"What then, must one do, to prevail?" 

" Let me think I can't seem to quite get at it. In fact there 

isn't an}-thing" that can right the matter but practice. This is a good 
place for it: roots and stony ground to break up your stately gait, a 
region not liable to interruption, only one field and one hut in sight, and 
they so far away that nobody could see us from there. It will be well 
to move a little off the road and put in the whole day drilling you, sire." 

After the drill had gone on a little while, I said: 

" Now, sire, imagine that we are at the door of the hut yonder, and 
the family are before us. Proceed, please — accost the head of the house." 




" brother! — TO DIRT 
LIKE THIS?" 



"brother! — TO DIRT 
LIKE THIS?" 



BROTHER' — TO DIRT 
LIKE THIS?" 



I \ The king unconsciously straightened up like a monument, and said, 
with frozen austerity: 

" Varlet, bring a seat; and serve to me what cheer ye have." 

"Ah, your grace, that is not well done." 

" In what lacketh it.'" 

" These people do not call cacJi otJier varlets." 

" Nay, is that true.'" 

" Yes; only those above them call them so." 

" Then must I try again. I will call him villein." 
B . " No-no; for he may be a freeman." 

I 



364 DRILLING THE KING. 

"Ah — SO. Then pcradvcnture I should call him goodman." 

" That would answer, your f^^race, but it would be still better if you 
said friend, or brother." 

"Brother!— to dirt like that.'" 

"Ah, but ivc are pretending to be dirt like that, too." H 

" It is even true. I will say it. Brother, bring a seat, and thereto 
what cheer ye have, withal. Now 'tis right." 

" Not quite, not wholly right. You have asked for one, not us — 
for one, not both; food for one, a seat for one." 

The king looked puzzled — he wasn't a very heavy weight, intellect- 
ually. His head was an hour-glass; it could stow an idea, but it had 
to do it a grain at a time, not the whole idea at once. 

" Would j^?/ have a seat also — and sit.''" 

" If I did not sit, the man would perceive that we were only pre- 
tending to be equals — and -playing the deception pretty poorly, too."* 

"It is well and truly said! How wonderful is truth, come it in 
whatsoever unexpected form it may! Yes, he must bring out seats 
and food for both, and in serving us present not ewer and napkin wdth 
more show of respect to the one than to the other." 

"And there is even yet a detail that needs correcting. He must 
bring nothing outside; — we will go in — in among the dirt, and possibly 
other repulsive things, — and take the food with the household, and 
after the fashion of the house, and all on equal terms, except the man 
be of the serf class; and finally, there will be no ewer and no napkin, 
whether he be serf or free. Please walk again, my liege. There — it 
is better — it is the best yet; but not perfect. The shoulders have 
known no ignobler burden than iron mail, and they will not stoop." 

" Give me, then, the bag. I will learn the spirit that goeth with 
burdens that have not honor. It is the spirit that stoopeth the shoul- 
ders, I ween, and not the weight; for armor is heavy, yet it is a proud 
burden, and a man standeth straight in it Nay, but me no 



DRILLING THE KING. 



365 



buts, offer me no objections. I will 
have the thing. Strap it upon my back." 
He was complete, now, with that 
knapsack on, and looked as little like 
a king as any man I had ever seen. 
But it was an obstinate pair of shoul- 
ders; they could not seem to learn the 
trick of stooping with any sort of 
deceptive naturalness. The drill 
went on, I prompting 
and correcting: 

" Now, make be- 
lieve you are in debt, 







ARMOR IS HEAVY, YET IT IS A PROUD BURDEN, AND A MAN STANDETII STRAIGHT IN IT. 
11** 



366 



DRILLING THE KING. 



ami c.ilcn up by relentless creditors; you are out of work — which is 
horse-shoeiui;, let us say — and can get none; ami your wife is sick, 
)()ur children are crying because they arc hungry — " 

iVnd so on, and so on. I drilled him as representing in turn, all 
sorts of people out of luck and suffering dire privations and misfortunes. 
But lord it was only just words, words — they meant nothing in the 
world to him, I might just as well have whistled. Words realize jioth - 
ing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person 
the thing which the words try to describe^^Therejire wise people who 
tallcevcrsoTv nowingly 'a^d complacently about " the working classes," 
and satisfy themselves that a day's hard intellectual work is very much 
harder than a day's hard manual toil, and is righteously entitled to 
much bigger pay. Why, they really think that, you know, because 
they know all about the one, but haven't tried the other. But I know 
all about both; and so far as lam concerned, there isn't money enough 
in the universe to hire me to swing a pick-axe thirty days, but I will 
do the hardest kind of intellectual work for just as near nothing as you 
can cipher it down — and I will be satisfied, t©o. 

Intellectual "work" is misnamed; it is a pleasure, a dissipation, 
and is its own highest reward. The poorest paid architect, engineer, 
general, author, sculptor, painter, lecturer, advocate, legislator, actor, 
preacher, singer, is constructively in heaven when he is at work; and 
as for the magician with the fiddle-bow in his hand who sits in the 
midst of a great orchestra with the ebbing and flowing tides of divine 
sound washing over him — why, certainly, he is at work, if you Avish to 
call it that, but lord, it's a sarcasm just the same. The law of work 
does seem utterly unfair — but there it is, and nothing can change it: 
the high er th e pay in enjoyment the worker gets out of it, the higher 



shall be his pay incasTTTaTso^ And it's also~the very law of those 
transparent swindles, transmissible nobility and kingship. 




I 



CHAPTER XXIX. 




THE SMALL-POX HUT. 

HEN we arrived at that hut at mid-afternoon, 
njJ we saw no signs of life about it. The field 
near by had been denuded of its crop some 
time before, and had a skinned look, so ex- 
haustively had it been harvested and gleaned. 
Fences, sheds, everything had a ruined 
look, and were eloquent of poverty. 
No animal was around anywhere, no 
living thing in sight. The stillness was awful, it was 
like the stillness of death. The cabin was a one- 
story one, whose thatch was black with age, and 
ragged from lack of repair. 

The door stood a trifle ajar. We ap- 
proached it stealthily — on tip- 
toe and at half- breath — for 
that is the way one's feeling 
makes him do, at such a 
time. The king knocked. We 
waited. No answer. Knocked again. No 
answer. I pushed the door softly open and 
looked in. I made out some dim forms, 
and a woman started up from the 
ground and stared at me, as one 
does who is wakened from sleep. Presently she found her voice — 

" Have mercy!" she pleaded. " All is taken, nothing is left." 

569 



170 



yy//-; sm.i/j.-i'ox nur. 



" 1 h.i\'c not come to take an\tliini;, poor woman." 

" Vou are not a priest?" 

" No." 

*• Nor come not from the lord of the manor.^" 

" No, I am a stranger." 

" Oh, then, f(^r the fear of God, who visits with misery and death 
such as be harmless, tarry not here, but fly! This place is under his 
curse — and his Church's." 

" Let me come in and help you — you are sick and in trouble." 

I was better used to the dim light, now. I could see her hollow 
eyes fi.xed upon me. I could see how emaciated she was. fl 

" I tell you the place is under the Church's ban. Save yourself — 
and go, before some straggler see thee here, and report it." 

" Give yourself no trouble about me; I don't care anything for the 
Church's curse. Let me help you." ; 

"Now all good spirits — if there be any such — bless thee for that 
word. Would God I had a sup of water! — but hold, hold, forget I said 
it, and fly; for there is that here that even he that feareth not the 
Church must fear: this disease whereof we die. Leave us, thou brave, 
good stranger, and take with tliee such whole and sincere blessing as 
them that be accursed can give." 

But before this I had picked up a wooden bowl and was rushing 
past the king on my way to the brook. It was ten yards away. When 
I got back and entered, the king was within, and was opening the shut- 
ter that closed the windows-hole, to let in air and light. The place was 
full of a foul stench. I put the bowl to the woman's lips, and as she 
gripped it with her eager talons the shutter came open and a strong 
light flooded her face. Small-pox! 

I sprang to the king, and said in his ear: |, 

" Out of the door on the instant, sire! the woman is dying of that 
disease that wasted the skirts of Camelot tv/o years ago." 



THE SMALL-POX HUT. 



71 



He did not budge. int ! 

" Of a truth I shall remain — and likewise help." 

1 whispered again: 

" King, it must not be. You must go." 

" Ye mean well, and ye speak not unwisely. But it were shame 
that a king should know fear, and shame that belted knight should 
withhold his hand where be such as need succor. Peace, I will not go. 
It is you who must go. The Church's ban is not upon me, but it for- 
biddeth you to be here, and she will deal with you with a heavy hand 
; an word come to her of your trespass." 

i It was a desperate place for him to be in, and might cost him his 

life, but it was no use to argue with him. If he considered his knightly 

honor at stake here, that was the end of argument; he would stay, and 

i nothing could prevent it; I was aware of that. And so I dropped the 

subject. The woman spoke: 

" Fair sir, of your kindness will ye climb the ladder there, and 
bring me news of what ye find.'' Be not afraid to report, for times can 
come when even a mother's heart is past breaking — being already 
broke." 

" Abide," said the king, " and give the woman to eat. I will go." 
And he put down the knapsack. 

I turned to start but the king had already started. He halted, and 
looked down upon a man who lay in a dim light, and had not noticed 
us, thus far, or spoken. ^ 

"Is it your husband.''" the king asked. 

"Yes." 

" Is he asleep.-*" 

" God be thanked for that one chanty, yes — these three hours. 
Where shall I pay to the full, my gratitude! for my heart is bursting 
with it for that sleep he sleepeth now." 

I said: 



Zl^ 



THE SMALL-POX HUT. 



" I T 1 will be careful. Wc will not wake him." 

"Ah, no, that yc will not, for he is dead." 

•' Dead.?" 

•* Yes, what triumph it is to know it! None can harm him, none 
insult him more. He is in heaven, now, and happy; or if not there, he 
bides in hell and is content; for in that place he will find neither abbot 
nor yet bishop. We were boy and girl together; we were man and 
wife these five and twenty years, and never separated till this day. 
Think how long that is, to love and suffer together. This morning was 
he out of his mind, and in his fancy we were boy and girl again and 
wandering in the happy fields; and so in that innocent glad converse 
wandered he far and farther, still lightly gossiping, and entered into 
those other fields we know not of, and was shut away from mortal 
sight. And so there was no parting, for in his fancy I went with him; 
he knew not but I went with him, my hand in his — my young soft 
hand, not this withered claw. Ah, yes, to go, and know it not; to 
separate and know it not; how could one go peacefuler than that .-' It 
was his reward for a cruel life patiently borne." 

There was a slight noise from the direction of the dim corner where 
the ladder was. It was the king, descending. I could see that he was 
bearing something in one arm, and assisting himself with the other. 
He came forward into the light; upon his breast lay a slender girl of 
fifteen. She was but half conscious; she was dying of small-pox. 
Here was heroism at its last and loftiest posssibility, its utmost summit; 
this was challenging death in the open field unarmed, with all the odds 
against the challenger, no reward set upon the contest, and no admir- 
ing world in silks and cloth of gold to gaze and applaud; and yet the 
I king's bearing was as serenely brave as it had always been in those 
I cheaper contests where 'knight meets knight in equal fight and clothed 
in protecting steel. iTe was great, now; sublimely great. The rude 
statues of his ancestors in his palace should have an addition — I would 



THE SMALL-POX HUT. 



O/ J 



>vjc to that; and it would not be a mailed king killing a giant or a 
dragon, like the rest, it would be a king in commoner's garb bearing 
death in his arms that a peasant mother 
might look her last upon her child and 
be comforted. 

He laid the girl down by her mother, 
who poured out endearments and caresses 
from an overflowing heart, and one could 
detect a flickering faint light of response 
in the child's eyes, but that was all. The 
mother hung over her, kissing her, petting 
her, and imploring her to speak, but the 
lips only moved and no sound came, 
snatched my liquor flask from my knap- 
sack, but the woman forbade me, and said 

"No — she does not suffer, it is better 
so. It might bring her back to life. 
None that be so good and kind as 
ye are, would do 
her that cruel hurt. 
For look you — 
what is left to live 
for.' Her brothers 
are gone, her fath- 
er is gone, her moth 
er goeth, the 
Church's curse is 
upon her and none 
may shelter or be- 
friend her even though she lay perishing in the road. She is deso- 
late. I have not asked you, good heart, if her sister be still on live, 




SOME MANHOOD EVEN IN A KING. 



374 ^-^^ SMALL-POX HUT. 

here overhead; I had no need; yc had gone back, else, and not left 
the poor thing forsaken — " 

"She Hcth at peace," interrupted the king, in a subdued voice. 
•' I would not change it. How rich is this day in happiness! Ah, my 
Annis, thou shalt join thy sister soon — thou'rt on thy way, and these 
be merciful friends, that will not hinder." 

And so she fell to murmuring and cooing over the girl again, and 
softly stroking her face and hair, and kissing her and calling her by 
endearing names; but there was scarcely sign of response, now, in the 
glazing eyes. I saw tears well from the king's eyes, and trickle down 
his face. The woman noticed them, too, and said: 

"Ah, I know that sign: thou'st a wife at home, poor soul, and you 
and she have gone hungry to bed, many's the time, that the little ones 
might have your crust; you know what poverty is, and the daily insults 
of your betters, and the heavy hand of the Church and the king." 

The king winced under this accidental home-shot, but kept still; 
he was learning his part; and he was playing it well, too, for a pretty 
dull beginner. I struck up a diversion. I offered the woman food and 
liquor, but she refused both. She would allow nothing to come between 
her and the release of death. Then I slipped away and brought the 
dead child from aloft, and laid it by her. This broke her down again, 
and there was another scene that was full of heart-break. By and by I 
made another diversion, and beguiled her to sketch her story. 

"Ye know it well, yourselves, having suffered it — for truly none of 
our condition in Britain escape it. It is the old, weary tale. We f ought 
and struggled and succee ded; meaning by succe ss, that we lived and 
dlonot die; more than that is nnttn he rlaim^d ^ N o troubles came 



that we could"nTyt ou t live T^ttrTthis year brought them; then came they 
all at once, as one might say, and overwhelmed us. Years ago the 
lord of the manor planted certain fruit trees on our farm; in the best 
part of it, too — a grievous wrong and shame — " 



THE SMALL-POX HUT. 375 

" But it was his right," interrupted the king. 

"None denieth that, indeed; an the law mean anything, what is 
the lord's is his, and what is mine is his also. Our farm w as ours by 
lease, therefore 'twas likewise his, to do with it as he would. Some 
little time ago, three of those trees were found hewn down. Our three 
grown sons ran frightened to report the crime. Well, in his lordship's 
dungeon there they lie, who saith there shall they lie and rot till they 
confess. They have naught to confess, being innocent, wherefore there 
will they remain until they die. Ye know that right well, I ween. 
Think how this left us; a man, a woman and two children, to gather a 
crop that was planted by so much greater force, yes, and protect it 
night and day from pigeons and prowling animals that be sacred and 
must not be hurt by any of our sort. When my lord's crop was nearly 
ready for the harvest, so also was ours; when his bell rang to call us 
to his fields to harvest his crops for nothing, he would not allow that I 
and my two girls should count for our three 
captive sons, but for only two of them; 
so, for the lacking one were we daily 
fined. All this time our own crop 
was perishing through neglect; and 
so both the priest and his lordship 
fined us because their shares 
of it were suffering through 
damage. In the end the fines 
ate up our crop — and they 
took it all; they took it 
all and made us harvest 
it for them, without pay 
or food, and we starv- 
ing. Then the worst came 
when I, being out of my under the curse ok rome. 




3^6 THE SMALL-POX HVT. 

iiiiiul with hunger and loss of my boys, and grief to see my husband and 
my little maitls in rags and misery and despair, uttered a deep blasphemy 
— oh! a thousand of them! — against the Church and the Church's ways. 
It was ten days ago. I had fallen sick with this disease, and it was to 
the priest I said the words, for he was come to chide me for lack of due 
humility under the chastening hand of God. He carried my trespass 
to his betters; I was stubborn; wherefore, presently upon my head 
and upon all heads that were dear to mc, fell the curse of Rome. 

" Since that day, we are avoided, shunned with horror. None has 
come near this hut to know whether we live or not. The rest of us 
were taken down. Then I roused me and got up, as wife and mother 
will. It was little they could have eaten in any case; it was less than 
little they had to eat. But there was water, and I gave them that. 
How they craved it! and how they blessed it! But the end came yester- 
day; my strength broke down. Yesterday was the last time I ever saw 
my husband and this youngest child alive. I have lain here all these 
hours — these ages, ye may say — listening, listening, for any sound up 
there that — " 

She gave a sharp quick glance at her eldest daughter, then cried 
out, " Oh, my darling!" and feebly gathered the stiffening form to her 
sheltering arms. She had recognized the death rattle. 



^, [ 










o 



^ 



A 




12 



4^i 




CHAPTER XXX. 

THE TRAGEDY OF THE MANOR-HOUSE. 

" midnight all was over, and we sat in the 
presence of four corpses. We covered 
them with such rags as we could find, 
and started away, fastening the door be- 
hind us. Their home must be these 
people's grave, for they could not have 
Christian burial, or be admitted to con- 
secrated ground. They were as dogs, 
wild beasts, lepers, and no soul that 
valued its hope of eternal life Avould 
throw it away by meddling in any 
sort with these rebuked and smitten 
outcasts. 

We had not moved four steps 
when I caught a sound as of foot- 
steps upon gravel. My heart 
flew to my throat. We must 
\jJyCJ not be seen coming from that 
house. I plucked at the king's 
-^^-Tf ^S::,.;^'^ ^ ) robe and we drew back and took 

shelter behind the corner 
of the cabin, 

" Now we are safe," I 
said, " but it was a 
close call — so to speak. 



^SO TIIK '/■NACKDV OF THE MAS'OR-HOUSE. 

If the night had been lii^^htcr he might have seen us, no doubt, he 
seemed to be so near." 

" Mayhap it is but a beast and not a man at all." 

*' True. But man or beast, it will be wise to stay here a minute 
and let it get b>' and out of the way." 

" Hark! It cometh hither." 

True again. The step was coming toward us — straight toward the 
hut. It must be a beast, then, and we might as well have saved our 
trepidation. I was going to step out, but the king laid his liand upon 
my arm. There was a moment of silence, then we heard a soft knock 
on the cabin door. It made me shiver. Presently the knock was re- 
peated, and then we heard these words in a guarded voice: 

" Mother! Father! Open — we have got free, and we bring news to 
pale your cheeks but glad your hearts; and we may not tarry, but must 
fly! And — but they answer not. Mother! father! " 

1 drew the king toward the other end of the hut and whispered: 

" Come — now we can get to the road." 

The king hesitated, was going to demur; but just then we heard 
the door give way, and knew that those desolate men were in the pres- 
ence of their dead. 

" Come, my liege! in a moment they will strike a light, and then 
will follow that wdiich it would break your heart to hear." 

He did not hesitate this time. The moment we were in the road, I 
ran; and after a moment he threw dignity aside and followed. I did 
not want to think of what was happening in the hut — I couldn't bear 
it; I wanted to drive it out of my mind; so I struck into the first sub- 
ject that lay under that one in my mind: 

" I have had the disease those people died of, and so have nothing 
to fear; but if you have not had it also — " 

He broke in upon me to say he was in trouble, and it was his con- 
science that was troubliner him: 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE MANOR-HOUSE. 38 I 

" These young men have got free, they say — but hoit? It is not 
likely that their lord hath set them free." 

" Oh, no, I make no doubt they escaped." 

" That is my trouble; I have a fear that this is so, and your suspi- 
cion doth confirm it, )'ou having the same fear." 

" I should not call it by that name though. I do suspect that they 
escaped, but if they did, I am not sorry, certainly." 

" I am not sorry, I tJiink — but — " 

" What is it.' What is there for one to be troubled about.''" 

" //"they did escape, then are we bound in duty to lay hands upon 
them and deliver them again to their lord; for it is not seemly that 
one of his quality should suffer a so insolent and high-handed outrage 
from persons of their base degree." 

There it was, again. He could see only one side of it. He was 
born so, educated so, his ve ins w e re fu ll of ancestral blood that was 
rotten with this sort of unconscious brutality, brought down by inherit- 
ance from a long procession of hearts that liad_ each done its share 
toward poisoning the stream. To imprison these men without proof. 



and starvetKeir kindred, was no harm, for they were merely peas- 
ants and subject to the will and pleasure of their lord, no matter 
what fearful form it might take; but for these men to break out of 
unjust captivity was insult and outrage, and a thing not to be coun- 
tenanced by any conscientious person who knew his duty to his 
sacred caste. 

I worked more than half an hour before I got him to change the 
subject — and even then an outside matter did it for me. This was a 
something which caught our eyes as we struck the summit of a small 
hill — a red glow, a good way off 

" That's a fire," said I. 

Fires interested me considerably, because I was getting a good 
deal of an insurance business started, and was also training some 



;v^2 



Tin-: i-KACKD y of the maxok-j/ouse. 



horses iwulfbuiklin^ sonic steam fire eni^incs, with an eye to a paid fire 
department by and by. The priests opposed both my fire and life- 
insurance, on the t^round tliat it was an insolent attempt to hinder the 
decrees of God; and if you pointed out that they did not hinder the 
decrees in the least, but only modified the hard consequences of them 
if you took out policies and had luck, they retorted that that was 




THE FIRE. 



gambling against the decrees of God, and was just as bad. So they 
managed to damage those industries more or less, but I got even on 
my Accident business. As a rule, a knight is a lummux, and some- 
times even a labrick, and hence open to pretty poor arguments when 
they come glibly from a superstition-monger, but even he could see 
the practical side of a thing once in a while; and so of late you couldn't 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE MANOR-HOUSE. :»8^ 

clean up a tournament and pile the result without finding one of my 
accident-tickets in every helmet. 

We stood there awhile, in the thick darkness and stillness, looking 
toward the red blur in the distance, and trying to make out the mean- 
ing of a far away murmur that rose and fell fitfully on the night. 
Sometimes it swelled up and for a moment seemed less remote; but 
when we were hopefully expecting it to betray its cause and nature, it 
dulled and sank again, carrying its mystery with it. We started down 
the hill in its direction, and the winding road plunged us at once into 
almost solid darkness — darkness that was packed and crammed in be- 
tween two tall forest walls. We groped along down for half a mile, 
perhaps, that murmur growing more and more distinct all the time, 
the coming storm threatening more and more, with now and then a 
little shiver of wind, a faint show of lightning, and dull grumblings of 
distant thunder. I was in the lead. I ran against something — a soft 
heavy something which gave, slightly, to the impulse of my weight; at 
the same moment the lightning glared out, and within a foot of my 
face was the writhing face of a man who was hanging from the limb of 
a tree! That is, it seemed to be writhing, but it was not. It was a 
grewsome sight. Straightway there was an ear-splitting explosion of 
thunder, and the bottom of heaven fell out; the rain poured down in 
a deluge. No matter, we must try to cut this man down, on the chance 
that there might be life in him yet, mustn't we.'' The lightning came 
quick and sharp, now, and the place was alternately noonday and mid- 
night. One moment the man would be hanging before me in an in- 
tense light, and the next he was blotted out again in the darkness. I 
told the king we must cut him down. The king at once objected. 

" If he hanged himself, he was willing to lose his property to his 
lord; so let him be. If others hanged him, belike they had the right 
— let him hang." 

" But—" 



3 84 ^-^^ TRAGEDY OF THE MA X OK- HO USE. 

" But me no buts, but even leave him as he is. And for yet another 
reason. When the H<:]^htning comcth again — there, look abroad." 
Two others hanging, within fifty yards of us! 

" It is not weather meet for doing useless courtesies unto dead folk. 
They are past thanking )-ou. Come — it is unprofitable to tarry here." 
There was reason in what he said, so we moved on. Within the 
next mile we counted six more hanging forms by the blaze of the 
lightning, and altogether it was a grisly excursion. That murmur was 
a murmur no longer, it was a roar; a roar of men's voices. A man 
came fi>'ing by, now, dimly through the darkness, and other men chas- 
ing him. They disappeared. Presently another case of the kind occur- 
red, and then another and another. Then a sudden turn of the road 
brought us in sight of that fire — it was a large 
manor house, and little or nothing was left of it— 
and everywhere men were flying and other men 
raging after them in pursuit. 

I warned the king that this was not a safe place 
for strangers. We would better get away from the 
light, until matters should improve. We stepped 
back a little, and hid in the edge of the wood. From this hiding place 
we saw both men and women hunted by the mob. The fearful work 
went on until nearly dawn. Then, the fire being out and the storm 
spent, the voices and flying footsteps presently ceased, and darkness 
and stillness reigned again. 

We ventured out, and hurried cautiously away; and although we 
were worn out and sleepy, we kept on until we had put this place some 
miles behind us. Then we asked hospitality at the hut of a charcoal 
burner, and got what was to be had. A Avoman was up and about, but 
the man was still asleep, on a straw shake-dovrn, on the clay floor. 
The woman seemed uneasy until I explained that we were travelers 
and had lost our way and been wandering in the woods all night. She 




THE TRAGEDY OF THE MANOR-HOUSE. 385 

became talkative, then, and asked if we had heard of the terrible go- 
ings-on at the manor house of Abblasoure. Yes, we had heard of them, 
but what we wanted now, was rest and sleep. The king broke in: 

"Sell us the house and take yourselves away, for we be perilous 
company, being but late come from people that died of the Spotted 
Death." 

It was good ofj^him, but unnecessary. One of the commonest dec- 
orations of the nation was the waffle-iron face. I had early noticed 
j that the woman and her husband were both so decorated. She made 
j us entirely welcome, and had no fears; and plainly she was immensely 
! impressed by the king's proposition; for of course it was a good deal 
of an event in her life to run across a person of the king's humble ap- 
pearance who was ready to buy a man's house for the sake of a night's 
lodging. It gave her a large respect for us, and she strained the lean 
possibilities of her hovel to their utmost to make us comfortable. 

We slept till far into the afternoon, and then got up hungry enough 
to make cotter fare quite palatable to the king, the more particularly 
as it was scant in quantity. And also in variety; it consisted solely 
of onions, salt, and the national black bread — made out of horse-feed. 
The woman told us about the affair of the evening before. At ten or 
eleven at night, when everybody was in bed, the manor house burst 
into flames. The countryside swarmed to the rescue, and the family 
were saved, with one exception, the master. He did not appear. 
Everybody was frantic over this loss, and two brave yeomen sacrificed 
their lives in ransacking the burning house seeking that valuable per- 
sonage. But after a while he was found — -what was left of him — which 
was his corpse. It was in a copse three hundred yards away, bound, 
gagged, stabbed in a dozen places. 

Who had done this.'' Suspicion fell upon a humble family in the 
neighborhood who had been lately treated with peculiar harshness by 
the baron; and from these people the suspicion easily extended itself 



3S6 TJIE TKAGEDY OF THE MANOR-HOUSE. 

to their relatives and familiars. A suspicion was enough; my lord's 
liveried retainers proclaimed an instant crusade against these people, 
and were promptly joined by the community in general. The woman's 
husband had been active with the mob, and had not returned home 
until nearly dawn. He was gone, now, to find out what the general 
result had been. While we were still talking, he came back from his 
quest. His report was revolting enough. Eighteen persons hanged 
or butchered, and two yeomen and thirteen prisoners lost in the-fire, 

" And how many prisoners were there altogether, in the vaults.^" 

" Thirteen." 

"Then every one of them was lost." 

" Yes, all." 

" But the people arrived in time to save the family; how is it they 
could save none of the prisoners .'" 

The man looked puzzled, and said: 

" Would one unlock the vaults at such a time } Alarry, some would 
have escaped." 

" Then you mean that nobody did unlock them .'*" 

"None went near them, either to lock or unlock. It standeth to 
reason that the bolts were fast; wherefore it was only needful to estab- 
lish a watch, so that if any broke the bonds he might not escape, but 
be taken. None were taken." 

" Natheless, three did escape," said the king, " and ye will do well 
to publish it and set justice upon their track, for these murthered the 
baron and fired the house." 

I was just expecting he would come out with that. For a moment 
the man and his wife showed an eager interest in this news and an im- 
patience to go out and spread it; then a sudden something else 
betrayed itself in their faces, and they began to ask questions. I an- 
swered the questions myself, and narrowly watched the effects pro- 
duced. I was soon satisfied that the knowledge of who these three 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE MANOR-HOUSE. 387 

jorisoncrs were, had somehow changed the atmosphere; that our hosts' 
continued eagerness to go and spread the news was now only pre- 
tended and not real. The king did not notice the change, and I was 
glad of that. I worked the conversation around toward other details 
of the night's proceedings, and noted that these people were relieved 
to have it take that direction. 

The painful thing o bservable about all this bus iness was, the alacrity 
with wTiich this oppressed community had turned their cruel hands 
against their own class in the interest of the common oppressor. This 
man and woman seemed to feel that in a quarrel between a person of 
their own class and his lord, it was the natural and proper and rightful 
thing for that poor devil's whole caste to side with the master and fight 
his battle for him, without ever stopping to inquire into the rights or 
wrongs of the matter. This man had been out helping to hang his 
neighbors, and had done his work with zeal, and yet was aware that 
there was nothing against them but a mere suspicion, with nothing 
back of it describable as evidence, still neither he nor his wife seemed 
to see anything horrible about it. 

This was depressing— to a man with the dream of a republic in his 
head. It reminded me of a time thirteen centuries away, when the 
"poor whites" of our South who were always despised and frequently 
insulted, by the slave-lords around them, and who owed their base 
condition simply to the presence of slavery in their midst, were yet 
pusillanimously ready to side with slave-lords in all political moves for 
the upholding and perpetuating of slavery, and did also finally shoulder 
their muskets and pour out their liv^sin an effort to prevent the de- 
struction of that very institution which degraded them. And there- 
was only one redeeming feature conriecfed with that pitiful piece of 
history; and that was, that secretly the "poor white" did detest the 
slave-tor d, and did feel his own shame. That feeling was not brought 
to the surface, but the fact that it was there and could have been 



^S>i^ THE TKAC.F.nV OF THE ^f.i iVOE-HOUSE. 

brought out, uiulor f.ivorini; circumstances, was soincthinjr — in fact it 
was enough; for it showed that a man is at bottom a man, after all, 
even if it doesn't show on the outside. 

Well, as it turned out, this charcoal burner was just the twin of the 
Southern " poor white " of the far future. The kinsj presently showed 
impatience, and said: 

"An ye prattle here all the day, justice will miscarry. Think ye 
the criminals will abide in their father's house.-* They are fleeing, they 
arc not waiting. You should look to it that a party of horse be set 
upon their track." 

The woman paled slightly, but quite perceptibly, and the man 
looked flustered and irresolute. I said: 

" Come, friend, I will walk a litt,le way with you, and explain which 
direction I think they would try to take. If they were merely resisters 
of the gabelle or some kindred absurdity I would try to protect them 
from capture; but when men murder a person of high degree and like- 
wise burn his house, that is another matter." 

The last remark was for the king — to quiet him. On the road the 
man pulled his resolution together, and began the march with a steady 
gait, but there was no eagerness in it. By and by I said: 
" What relation were these men to you — cousins.-* " 
He turned as white as his layer of charcoal would let him, and 
stopped, trembling. 

"Ah, my God, how knew you that.-* " 

" I didn't know it; it was a chance guess." 

" Poor lads, they are lost. And good lads they were, too." 

" Were you actually going yonder to tell on them.-* " 

He didn't quite know how to take that; but he said, hesitatingly: 

"Ye-s." 

" Then I think you are a damned scoundrel! " 

It made him as glad as if I had called him an angel. 



7'HE TRACED Y OF THE MANOR-HOUSE. 



3^9 



" Say the j^ood words again, brother! for surely ye mean that ye 
would not betray me an I failed of my duty." 




.;/•■:, .-r -r-'^^;;-. ft ■.'-"'- v/;': .A,/. ""... 



A IKEE IS KNOWN BY ITS FRUITS. 



"Duty.^ There is no duty in the matter, except the duty to keep 
still and let those men get away. They've done a righteous deed." 



39^^ 



THE TRACED Y OF THE MANOK-HOUSE. 



He looked pleased; pleased, and touched with apprehension at the 
same time. He looked up and down the road to see that no one was 
comin<^, and then said in a cautious voice: 

"From what land come you, brother, that you speak such perilous ' 
words, and seem not to be afraid?" 

"They are not perilous words when spoken to oneof my own caste, 
I take it. You would not tell anybody I said them.^" 

"I.-' I would be drawn asunder by wild horses first." 

"Well, then, let me say my say. I have no fears of your repeating 
it. I think devil's work has been done last night upon those innocent 
poor people. That old baron got only what he deserved. If I had my 
way, all his kind should have the same luck." 

Fear and depression vanished from the man's manner, and grate- 
fulness and a brave animation took their place: 

"Even though you be a spy, and your words a trap for my undo- 
ing, yet are they such refreshment that to hear them again and others 
like to them, I would go to the gallows happy, as having had one good 
feast at least in a starved life. And I will say my say, now, and ye 
may report it if ye be so minded. I helped to hang my neighbors for 
that it were peril to my own life to show lack of zeal in the master's 
cause; the others helped for none other reason. All rejoice to-day that 
he is dead, but all do go about seemingly sorrowing, and shedding the 
hypocrite's tear, for in that lies safety. I have said the words, I have 
said the words! the only ones that have ever tasted good in my mouth, 
and the reward of that taste is sufficient. Lead on, an ye will, be it 
even to the scaffold, for I am ready." 

There it was, you see. A man is a man, at bottom. Whole ages 
of abuse and oppression cannot crush the manhood clear out of him. 
Wlioever thinks it a mistake, is himself mistaken. Yes, there is plenty 
good enough material for a republic in the most degraded people that 
ever existed — even the Russians; plenty of manhood in them — even in 



THE rRAGEDY OF THE MANOR-HOUSE. 



391 



the Germans — if one could but force it out of its timid and suspicious 
privacy, to overthrow and trample in the mud any throne that ever 
was set up and any nobility that ever supported it. We should see 
certain things yet, let us hope and believe. First, a modified mon- 
archy, till Arthur's days were done, then the destruction of the throne, 
nobility abolished, every member of it bound out to some useful trade, 
universal suffrage instituted, and the whole government placed in the 
hands of the men and women of the nation there to remain. Yes, 
there was no occasion to give up my dream yet a while. 




x<\ 



^ 




"Xj^^j^^i^'"'^ 



12* 




CHAPTER XXXI. 

MARCO. 

|) 1 E strolled along in a sufficiently indolent 
fashion, now, and talked. We must dis- 
pose of about the amount of time it ought 
to take to go to the little hamlet of Abbla- 
soure and put justice on the track of those 
murderers and get back home again. And 
meantime I had an auxiliary interest which 
had never paled yet, never lost its novelty for me, 
since I had been in Arthur's kingdom: the behav- 
ior — born of nice and exact subdivisions of caste 
— of chance passers-by toward each other. Tow- 
ard the shaven monk who trudged along with his 
cowl tilted back and the sweat washing down his 
fat jowls, the coal burner was deeply reverent; 
to the gentleman he was abject; with the small 
farmer and the free mechanic he was cordial 
and gossipy; and when a slave passed by with 
a countenance respectfully lowered, this chap's nose 
was in the air — he couldn't even see him. Well, 
there are times when one would like to ha ng the 
whole human race and finish the farce. 



Presently we struck an incident. A small mob 
of half naked boys and girls came tearing out of the woods, scared 
and shrieking. The eldest among them were not more than twelve 



395 



;96 



MARCO. 



(ir fourteen )-c;irs old. They implored help, but they were so beside 
themselves that we couldn't make out what the matter was. How- 
ever, we pluni^cd into the wood, they skurryin<,r in the lead, and the 
trouble was quickly revealed: they had hang^ed a little fellow with a 
bark rope, and he was kicking and struggling, in the process of chok- 
ing to death. We rescued him, and fetched him around. It was some 
more human nature; the admiring little folk imitating their elders; 
they wei'e playing mob, and had achieved a success which promised 
to be a good deal more serious than they had bargained for. 

It was not a dull excursion for me. I managed to put in the time 
very well. I made various acquaintanceships, and in my quality of 
stranger was able to ask as many questions as I wanted to. A thing 
which naturally interested me, as a statesman, was the matter of wages. 
I picked up what I could under that head during the afternoon. A 
man who hasn't had much experience, and doesn't think, is apt to 
measure a nation's prosperity or lack of prosperity by the mere size ot 
the prevailing wages: if the wages be high, the nation is prosperous; 
if low, it isn't. Which is an error. It isn't what sum you get, it's how 
much you can buy with it that's the important thing; and it's that that 
tells whether your wages are high in fact or only high in name. I 
could remember how it was in the time of our great civil war in the 
nineteenth century. In the North a carpenter got three dollars a day, 
gold valuation; in the South he got fifty — payable in Confederate shin- 
plasters worth a dollar a bushel. In the North a suit of over-alls cost 
three dollars — a day's wages; in the South it cost seventy-five — which 
was two days' wages. Other things were in proportion. Consequently, 
wages were twice as high in the North as they were in the South, be- 
cause the one wage had that much more purchasing power that the 
other had. 

Yes, I made various acquaintances in the hamlet, and a thing that 
gratified me a cfood deal was to find our new coins in circulation — lots 



MARCO. 



597 



of milrays, lots of mills, lots of cents, a good many nickels, and some 
silver; all this among the artisans and commonalty generally; yes, and 
even some gold — but that was at the bank, that is to say, the gold- 
smith's. I dropped in there while Marco the son of Marco was hag- 
gling with a shopkeeper over a quarter of a pound of salt, and asked 




"toward the monk the coal burner was deeply reverent." 



for change for a twenty dollar gold piece. They furnished it — that is, 
after they had c-hewed the piece, and rung it on the counter, and tried 
acid on it, and asked me where I got it, and who I was, and where I 
was from, and where I was going to, and when I expected to get there, 
and perhaps a couple of hundred more questions; and when they got 
aground, I went right on and furnished them a lot of information vol- 



398 



MARCO. 



uiU.iiil}-: told them I owned a do-;-, and his name was Watch, anc my 
fnst wife was a I'lee Will baptist, and her ^grandfather was a Piohi- 
bitionist, and I used to know a man who had two thumbs on each land 
and a wart on the inside of his upper lip, and died in the hope of a 
f^lorious resurrection, and so-on, and so-on, and so-on, till even that 
luini,n\' village questioner began to look satisfied, and also a shade put 
out; but he had to respect a man of ni}' financial strength, and sc he 
didn't give me any lip, but I noticed he took it out of his underlir.gs, 
which was a perfectly natural thing to do. Yes, they changed my 
twenty, but I judged it strained the bank a little, which was a thing to 
be expected, for it was the same as \\alking into a paltry village store 
in the nineteenth century and requiring the boss of it to change a two- 
thousand dollar bill for you all of a sudden. He could do it, maybe; 
but at the same time he would w^onder how a small farmer happened 
to be carr}-ing so much monc)' around in his pocket; which was prob- 
abl)- this goldsmith's thought, too; for he followed me to the door and 
stood there gazing after me with reverent admiration. 

Our new money was not only handsomely circulating, but its lan- 
guage was already glibly in use; that is to say, people had dropped 
the names of the former moneys, and spoke of things as being worth 
so many dollars or cents or mills or milrays, now. It was very grati- 
fying. We were progressing, that was sure. 

I got to know several master mechanics, but about the most inter- 
esting fellow among them was the blacksmith, Dowley. He was a live 
man and a brisk talker, and had two journeymen and three apprentices, 
and was doing a raging business. In fact, he was getting rich, hand 
over fist, and was vastly respected. Marco was very proud of having 
such a man for a friend. He had taken me there ostensibl}- to let me 
see the big establishment which bought so much of his charcoal, but 
really to let me see what easy and almost familiar terms he was on with 
this great man. Dowley and I fraternized at once; I had had just such 



MARCO. 



399 



picked men, splendid fellows, under me in the Colt Arms Factory. I 
w as bound to see more of him, so I invited him to come out to Marco's, 
Sunday, and dine with us. Marco was appalled, and held his breath; 
and when the grandee accepted, he was so grateful that he almost for- 
■_ ot to be astonished at the condescension. 
j Marco's joy was exhuberant — but only for a moment; then he grew 

I thoughtful, then sad; and when he heard me tell Dowley I should have 
I Dickon the boss mason, and Smug the boss wheelwright out there, too, 
! the coal-dust on his face turned to chalk, and he lost his grip. But I 
I knew what was the matter with him; it was the expense. He saw ruin 
before him; he judged that his financial days were numbered. How- 
ever, on our way to invite the others, I said: 

" You must allow me to have these friends come; and you must 
also allow mc to pay the costs." 
\ His face cleared, and he said with spirit: 

" But not all of it, not all of it. Ye cannot well bear a burden like 
to this alone." 

I stopped him, and said: 

" Now let's understand each other on the spot, old friend. I am 
only a farm bailiff, it is true; but I am not poor, nevertheless. I have 
been very fortunate this year — you would be astonished to know how 
I have thriven. I tell you the honest truth when I say I could squan- 
der away as many as a dozen feasts like this and never care tJiat for 
the expense! " and I snapped my fingers. I could see myself rise a 
foot at a time in Marco's estimation, and when I fetched out those last 
words I was become a very tower, for style and altitude. " So you see, 
you must let me have my way. You can't contribute a cent to this 
orgy, that's settled^ 

" It's grand and good of you — " 

" No, it isn't. You've opened your house to Jones and me in the 
most generous way; Jones was remarking upon it to-day, just before 



40O 



MARCO. 



you came back from the village; for although he wouldn't be likely to 
say such a thing to you, — because Jones isn't a talker, and is diffident 
in society — he has a good heart and a grateful, and knows how to ap- 
preciate it when he is well treated; yes, you and your wife have been 
very hospitable toward us — " 

*' Ah, brother, 'tis nothing — such hospitality! " 

** But it is something; the best a man has, freely given, is always 
something, anJ'lS' as guT5d as a^prmce can do, 
and ran ks rig ht along~~beside it — for even a 
prince c an but do his best. And so we'll shop 
around and get up this layout, now, and don't 
you worry about the ex- 
pense. I'm one of the 
worst spendthrifts that 
ever was born. Wh}-, do 
}'Ou know, sometimes in 
a single week I spend — 
but never mind about 
that — you'd never be- 
lieve it anyway." 

And so we went gad- 
ding along, dropping in 

" WHEN' A SLAVE PASSED HE couldn't EVEN SEE HIM." hcTC aild thcrC PriclnO" 

things, and gossiping with the shopkeepers about the riot, and now 
and then running across pathetic reminders of it, in the persons of 
shunned and tearful and houseless remnants of families whose homes 
had been taken from them and their parents butchered or hanged. 
The raiment of Marco and his wife was of coarse tow-linen and linL;e>'- 
woolsey respectiveh', and resembled township maps, it being made up 
pretty exclusively of patches which had been added, township by town- 
ship, in the course of five or six years, until hardly a hand's-breadth of 







MARCO. 



40 1 



the original garments was surviving and present. Now I wanted to fit 
these people out with new suits, on account of that swell company, and 
I didn't know just how to get at it with delicacy, until at last it struck 
me that as I had already been liberal in inventing wordy gratitude for 
the king, it would be just the thing to back it up with evidence of a 
substantial sort; so I said: 

" And Marco, there's another thing which you must permit — out of 
kindness for Jones — because you wouldn't want to offend him. He 
was very anxious to testify his appreciation in some way, but he is so 
diflfident he couldn't venture it himself, and so he begged me to buy 
some little things and give them to you and Dame Phyllis and let him 
pay for them without your ever knowing they came from him — you 
know how a delicate person feels about that sort of thing — and so I 
said I would, and we would keep mum. Well, his idea was, a new 
outfit of clothes for you both — " 

"Oh, it is wastefulness! It may not be, brother, it may not be. 
Consider the vastness of the sum — " 

" Hang the vastness of the sum! Try to keep quiet for a moment, 
and see how it would seem; a body can't get in a word edgeways, you 
talk so much. You ought to cure that, Marco; it isn't good form, you 
know, and it will grow on you if you don't check it. Yes, we'll step 
in here, now, and price this man's stuff — and don't forget to remember 
to not let on to Jones that you know he had anything to do with it. 
You can't think how curiously sensitive and proud he is. He's a 
farmer — pretty fairly well-to-do farmer — and I'm his bailiff; but — the 
imagination of that man! Why, sometimes when he forgets himself 
and gets to blowing off, you'd think he was one of the swells of the 
earth; and you might listen to him a hundred years and never take 
him for a farmer — especially if he talked agriculture. He tJiinks he's 
a Sheol of a farmer; thinks he's old Grayback from Wayback; but 
between you and me privately he don't know as much about farming 
12** 



402 



MAKCO. 



a;? he docs about runnini;^ a kiiiL^Mloni — still, whatever he talks about, 
you want to drop your underjaw and listen, the same as if you had 
never heard such incredible wisdom in all your life before, and were 
afraid you might die before you got enough of it. That will please 
Jones." 

It tickled Marco to the marrow to hear about such an odd character; 
but it also prepared him for accidents; and in my experience when 
you travel with a king who is letting on to be something else and can't 
remember it more than about half the time, you can't take too many 
precautions. 

This was the best store we had come across yet; it had everything 
in it, in small quantities, from anvils and dry goods all the way down to 
fish and pinchbeck jewelry. I concluded I would bunch my whole 
invoice right here, and not go pricing around any more. vSo I got rid 
of Marco, by sending him off to inxite the mason and the wheelwright, 
which left the field free to me. For I never care to do a thing in a 
quiet way; it's got to be theatrical or I don't take any interest in it. I 
showed up money enough, in a careless way, to corral the shopkeeper's 
respect, and then I wrote down a list of the things I wanted, and 
handed it to him to see if he could read it. He could, and was proiid 
to show that he could. He said he had been educated by a priest, and 
could read and write both. He ran it through, and remarked with 
satisfaction that it vras a prett}- hca\'\' bill. Well, and so it was, for a 
little concern like that. I was not onl\' providing a swell dinner, but 
some odds and ends of extras. I ordered that the things be carted 
out and delivered at the dwelling of Marco the son of Marco by Satur- 
day evening, and send me the bill at dinner-time Sunda)-. He said I 
could depend upon his promptness and exactitude, it was the rule of 
the house. He also observed that he would throw in a couple of miller- 
guns for the Marcos, gratis — that everybody was using them now. He 
had a might}- opinion of that clever device. I said: 




403 



404 MARCO. 

" And please fill them up to the middle mark, too; and add that to 
the bill." 

He would, with pleasure. He filled them, and I took them with 
me. I couldn't venture to tell him that the miller-gun was a little 
invention of my own, and that I had officially ordered that every shop- 
keeper in the kingdom keep them on hand and sell them at govern- 
ment-price — which was the merest trifle, and the shopkeeper got that, 
not the government. We furnished them for nothing. 

The king had hardly missed us when we got back at night-fall. 
He had early dropped again into his dream of a grand invasion of Gaul 
with the whole strength of his kingdom at his back, and the afternoon 
had slipped away without his ever coming to himself again. 




CHAPTER XXXII. 

dowley's uumiliation. 

ELL, when that cargo arrived, 
toward sunset, Saturday afternoon, 
I had my hands full to keep the 
Marcos from fainting. They Avere 
sure Jones and I were ruined past 
help, and they blamed themselves 
as accessories to this bankruptcy. 
You see, in addition to the dinner- 
materials, which called for a suffi- 
ciently round sum, I had bought 
lot of extras for the future com- 
fort of the family: for instance, 
a big lot of wheat, a delicacy 
as rare to the tables of their 
class as was ice-cream to a 
hermit's; also a sizeable deal 
dinner table; also 
two entire pounds 



^08 D O WLE Y 'S HUM ILIA TION. 

t)f salt, which was another piece of extrava|^ancc in those people's eyes; 
also crockery, stools, the clothes, a small cask of beer, and so on. I 
instructed the Marcos to keep quiet about this sumptuousness, so as to 
i^i\c me a chance to surprise the guests and show off a little. Con- 
cerning- the new clothes, the simple couple were like children; they 
were up and down, all night, to see if it w^asn't nearly daylight, so that 
they could put them on, and they were into them at last as much as an 
hour before dawn was due. Then thcir pleasure — not to say delirium 
— w^as so fresh and novel and inspiring that the sight of it paid me well 
for the interruptions which my sleep had suffered. The king had slept 
just as usual— like the dead. The Marcos could not thank him for 
their clothes, that being forbidden; but they tried every way they could 
think of to make him see how grateful they were. Which all went for 
nothing: he didn't notice any change. 

It turned out to be one of those rich and rare fall days which is just 
a June day toned dow^n to a degree where it is heaven to be out of 
doors. Toward noon the guests arrived and we assembled under a 
great tree and were soon as sociable as old acquaintances. Even the 
king's reserve melted a little, though it was some little trouble to him 
to adjust himself to the name of Jones along at first. I had asked him 
to try to not forget that he was a farmer; but I had also considered it 
prudent to ask him to let the thing stand at that, and not elaborate it 
any. Because he was just the kind of person you could depend on to 
spoil a little thing like that if you didn't warn him, his tongue was so 
handy, and his spirit so willing, and his information so uncertain. 

Dowley was in fine feather, and I early got him started, and then 
adroitly worked him around onto his own history for a text and him- 
self for a hero, and then it was good to sit there and hear him hum. 
Self-made man, you know\ They know how^ to talk. They do deserve 
more credit than any other breed of men, yes, that is true; and they 
are among the very first to find it out, too. He told how he had begun 



D O IV LE V'S HUM I LI A TION. 



409 











W/W^ life an orphan lad without money and without 
friends able to help him; how he had lived as 
the slaves of the meanest mas- 
ter lived; how his day's work Y 
was from sixteen to eighteen V''. 
hours long, and yielded him 
only enough black bread to J2' rx^ 
keep him in a half-fed con- 
dition; how his faithful en- 
deavors finally attracted 
the attention of a good 
blacksmith, who came 
near knocking him dead 
with kindness by sudden- 
ly offering, when he was 
totally unprepared, to 




"AND WEKE SOON AS SOCIABLE AS OLD AC(^UAINTA^'CES," 



410 



DOIVLEY'S HUM I I.I A TION. 



take him as his bouiul apprentice for nine years and give him board 
anti clothes and teach him the trade— or "mystery" as Dowley called 
it. That was his hrst great rise, his first gorgeous stroke of fortune; 
and \-ou saw that he couldn't yet si)eak of it \\ithout a sort of eloquent 
wonder and delight that such a gilded promotion should have fallen 
to the lot of a common human being. He got no new clothing dur- 
ing his apprenticeship, but on his graduation day his master tricked 
him out in spang-new tow-linens and made him feel unspeakably rich 
and fine. 

"I remember me of that day! " the wheelwright sang out, Avith en- 
thusiasm. 

"And I likewise!" cried the mason. "I would not believe they 
were thine own; in faith I could not." 

" Nor others! " shouted Dowley, with sparkling eyes. " I was like 
to lose my character, the neighbors wending I had mayhap been 
stealing. It was a great day, a great day; one forgetteth not days like 
that." 

Yes, and his master was a fine man, and prosperous, and alwa}-s 
had a great feast of meat twice in the year, and with it white bread, 
true wheaten bread; in fact, lived like a lord, so to speak. And in time 
Dowley succeeded to the business and married the daughter. 

" And now consider what is come to pass," said he, impressively. 
" Two times in every month there is fresh meat upon my table." He 
made a pause here, to let that fact sink home, then added — " and eight 
times, salt meat." 

" It is even true," saifl the wheelwright, with bated breath. 

" I know it of mine own knowledge," said the mason, in tlic same 
reverent fashion. 

" On my table appeareth white bread every Sunday in the year," 
added the master smith, with solemnity. " I leave it to your own con- 
sciences, friends, if this is not also true.''" 



DOW LEY'S HUMILIA 7 'lOlV. 4 1 I 

" By my head, yes! " cried the mason. 

" I can testify it — and I do," said the wheelwright. 

" And as to furniture, ye shall say yourselves what mine equipment 
is." He waved his hand in fine gesture of granting frank and unham- 
[)cred freedom of speech, and added: " Speak as ye are moved; speak 
as ye would speak an I were not here." 

" Ye have five stools, and of the sweetest workmanship at that, 
albeit your family is but three," said the wheelwright, with deep 
respect. 

"And six wooden goblets, and six platters of wood and two of 
pewter to eat and drink from withal,", said the mason, impressively. 
" And I say it as knowing God is my judge, and we tarry not here 
alway, but must answer at the last day for the things said in the body, 
be they false or be they sooth." 

" Now ye know what manner of man I am, brother Jones," said the 
smith, with a fine and friendly condescension, " and doubtless ye would 
look to find me a man jealous of his due of respect and but sparing of 
outgo to strangers till their rating and quality be assured, but trouble 
yourself not, as concerning that; wit ye well ye shall find me a man 
that regardeth not these matters but is willing to receive any he as his 
fellow and equal that carrieth a right heart in his body, be his worldly 
estate howsoever modest. And in token of it, here is my hand; and I 
say with my own mouth we are equals — equals" — and he smiled arouncl 
on the company wi th the sat isfactiorTof a gud \vfro is^doing the hand- 
some and gracious thing and is quite \v el l aware ot \t. 

The king took the hand with a poorly disguised reluctance, and let 
go of it as willingly as a lady lets go of a fish; all of which had a good 
effect, for it was mistaken for an embarrassment natural to one who was 
being beamed upon by greatness. 

The dame brought out the table, now, and set it under the tree. It 
caused a visible stir of surprise, it being brand new and a sumptuous 



4J 



DOIVLEVS HUMILIATION. 



article of deal. But the surprise rose higher still, when the dame, with 
a body oozing easy indifference at every pore, but eyes that gave it all 
away by absolutely flaming with vanity, slowly unfolded an actual 
simon-pure tablecloth and spread it. That was a notch above even 
the blacksmith's domestic grandeurs, and it hit him hard; you could 
see it. But Marco was in Paradise; you could see that, too. Then 
the dame brought two fine new stools — whew! that was a sensation; 
it was visible in the eyes of every guest. Then she brought two more 
— as calmly as she could. Sensation again — with awed murmurs. 
Again she brought two — walking on air, she was so proud. The 
guests were petrified, and the mason muttered: 

" There is that about earthly pomps wliich doth ever move to rev- 
erence." 

As the dame turned away, Marco couldn't help slapping on the 
climax while the thing was hot; so he said with what was meant for 
a languid composure but was a poor imitation of it: 

"These suffice; leave the rest." 

So there were more yet ! It was a fine effect. I couldn't have 
played the hand better myself. 

From this out, the madam piled up the surprises with a rush that 
fired the general astonishment up to a hundred and fifty in the shade, 
and at the same time paral}'zed expression of it down to gasped " Oh's" 
and "Ah's", and mute upliftings of hands and eyes. She fetched 
crockery— new, and plenty of it; new wooden goblets and other table 
furniture; and beer, fish, chicken, a goose , eggs, roast beef, roast mut- 
ton, a ham. a small roast pig, and a wealth of genuine white wheaten 
bread. Take it by and large, that spiead laid everything far and away 
in the shade that ever that crowd had seen before. And while they 
sat there just simply stupefied with wonder and awe, I sort of waved 
my hand as if by accident, and the store-keeper's son emerged from 
space and said he had come to collect. 







\-rj/ 






A 










^^. 



/^ 



13 



413 



414 DOW/.EY'S in: MI LI A TION. 

" That's all ri^lit," I said. iiulifTcrcntI)'. " What is the amount? 
i^ivc us the items." 

Then he read off this bill, w hilc those three amazed men listened, 
and serene waves of satisfaction rolled over my soul and alternate 
waves of terror and admiration surt^ed over Marco's: 

2 pounds salt 200 

S dozen pints beer, in the wood 800 

3 bushels wheat 2,700 

2 pounds fish 100 

3 hens 400 

I goose 400 

3 dozen eggs 1 50 

X roast of beef 450 

I " " mutton 400 

I ham 800 

1 sucking pig 500 

2 crockery dinner sets 6,000 

2 men's suits and underwear 2,800 

I stuff and i linsey-woolsey gown and underwear 1,600 

8 wooden goblets 800 

Various table furniture 10,000 

1 deal table 3,000 

8 stools 4,000 

2 miller-guns, loaded 3,000 

He ceased. There was a pale and awful silence. Not a limb 
stirred. Not a nostril betrayed the passage of breath. 

" Is that all.'' " I asked, in a voice of the most perfect calmness. 

"All, fair sir, save that certain matters of light moment are placed 
together under a head hight sundries. If it would like you, I will 
sepa — " 

"It is of no consequence," I said, accompanying the words with a 
gesture of the most utter indifference; "give me the grand total, 
please." 

The clerk leaned against the tree to stay himself, and said: 

" Thirty-nine thousand one hundred and fifty milrays! " 



D O WLE y 'S HUM I LI A J 'ION. 



415 



The wheelwright fell off his stool, the others grabbed the table to 
save themselves, and there was a deep and general ejaculation of — 

" God be with us in the day of disaster! " 

The clerk hastened to say: 

" My father chargeth me to say he cannot honorably require you 
to pay it all at this time, and therefore only prayeth you — " 

I paid no more heed than if it were the idle breeze, but with an air 
of indifference amounting almost to weariness, got out my money and 
tossed four dollars onto the table. Ah, you should have seen them 
stare! 

The clerk was astonished and charmed. He asked me to retain 
one of the dollars as security, until he could go to town and — I inter- 
rupted: 

"What, and fetch back nine cents.^ Nonsense. Take the whole. 
Keep the change." 

There was an amazed murmur to this effect: 

" Verily this being is made of money! He throweth it away even 
as it were dirt." 

The blacksmith was a crushed man. 

The clerk took his money and reeled away drunk with fortune. I 
said to Marco and his wife: 

" Good folk, here is a little trifle for you " — handing the miller-guns 
as if it were a matter of no consequence though each of them contained 
fifteen cents in solid cash; and while the poor creatures went to pieces 
with astonishment and gratitude, I turned to the others and said as 
calmly as one would ask the time of day: 

"Well, if we are all ready, I judge the dinner is. Come, fall to." 

Ah, well, it was immense; yes, it was a daisy. I don't know that 
I ever put a situation together better, or got happier spectacular effects 
out of the materials available. The blacksmith — well, he was simply 
mashed. Land! I wouldn't have felt what that man was feeling, for 



4 T 6 DOWI.K Y 'S HUM 1 1. 1. 1 TION. 

anything in tlic workl. 1 Icrc he h.ul been bh)\vin^r and bragging about 
his grand mcat-fcast twice a \car, antl his fresh meat twice a month, 
and his salt meat twice a week, and his white bread every Sunday the 
year round — all for a family of three: the entire cost for the year not 
above 69.2.6 (sixty-nine cents, two mills and six milrays,) and all of a 
sudden here comes along a man who slashes out nearly four dollars on 
a single blow-out; and not only that, but acts as if it made him tired 
to handle such small sums. Yes, Dowley was a good deal wilted, and 
shrunk-up and collapsed; he had the aspect of a bladder-balloon that's 
been stepped on by a cow. 



A 




CHAPTER XXXIII. 

SIXTH CENTURY POLITICAL 
ECONOMY. 

loWEVER, I made a dead set at 

him, and before the fir.st third of 

the dinner was reached, I had him 

happy again. It was easy to do— in 

a country of ranks and castes. You 

see, in a country w here they^iave ranks a nd 

castes, a man isn'tev er a m an, h e is only _part 

of a man, he can't ever get h is full growth. 

You prov e your superiority o ver him in 

station, or rank, or fortune^ andjjiafs the 

end of it — he knuckles down. You can't 




insult Hiim ^ ter tha L No, I don't mean 
quite that; of course you can insult him, I 
only mean it's diffi- 
cult; and so, unless 
you'v^e got a lot of 
useless time on your 
hands it doesn't pay 
to try. I had the 
smith's reverence, 
now, because I 
-"^T?^-- was apparent- 
*"|>::4=^_ — ly immensely 



420 



SIXTH CEXrrKV rOIJTICAI. ECONOMY. 



prosperous and rich; I couM ha\c had liis adoration if I had had some 
little <^imcrack title of nobilit)-. And not only his, but any commoner's 
in the land, thouf^h he were the mii^hticst production of all the ages, 
in intellect, worth, ami ciiaractcr, and I l)ankru[)t in all three. This 
was to remain so, as long as h^ngland should exist in the earth. With 
the spirit of prophec}' upon me. I could look into the future and see 
her erect statues and monuments to her unspeakable Georges and 
other royal and noble clothes-horses, and leave unhonored the crea- 
tors of this world — after God— Gutenberg, Watt, Arkwright, Whitney, 
Morse, Stephenson, Bell. 

The king got his cargo aboard, and then, the talk not turning upon 
battle, conquest, or iron-clad duel, he dulled down to drowsiness and 
went off to take a nap. Mrs. Marco cleared the table, placed the beer- 
keg hand}-, and went away to eat her dinner of leavings in humble 
privacy, and the rest of us soon drifted into matters near and dear to 
the hearts of our sort — business and wages, of course. At a first glance, 
things appeared to be exceeding prosperous in this little tributary 
kingdom — whose lord was King Bagdemagus — as compared ^\"ith the 
state of things in my own region. They had the " protection " system 
in full force here, whereas we w-ere working along down towards free 
trade, by easy stages, and were now^ about half way. Before long, 
Dowley and I w'ere doing all the talking, the -others hungrily 
listening. Dowley warmed to his work, snuffed an advantage in 
the air, and began to put questions which he considered pretty 
awkward ones for me, and they did have something of that 
look: 

" In your country, brother, what is the wage of a master bailiff, 
master hind, carter, shepherd, swineherd.'" 

" Twenty-five milrays a day; that is to say, a quarter of a cent." 

The smith's face beamed with joy. He said: 

"With us they are allowed the double of it! And what may a 



SIXTH CENTURY POLITICAL ECONOMY. 



421 



mechanic get — carpenter, dauber, mason, painter, blacksmith, wheel- 
wright and the like?" 

" On the average, fifty milra}'s; half a cent a day." 

" Ho-ho! With us they are allowed a hundred! With us any good 



mechanic is allowed a 
but not the others — the}' 
in driving times they get 
I ten and even fifteen mil- 
dred and fifteen myself, 
protection — to Sheol 

And his fac c 
like a sunburst. 



cent a day! I count out the tailor, 

are all allowed a cent a day, and 

more — yes, up to a hundred and 

rays a day. I've paid a hun- 

within the week. 'Rah for 

with free-trade! " 

shone upon the company 

But I didn't scare at all. I 

rigged up my pile-driver, 

and allowed myself fifteen 

minutes to drive him into 

the earth — drive him all in — drive 

the curve 




^22 SIXTH CEXrURY POLIJICAL ECONOMY. 

of his skull should show above i^round. Here is the way I started in 
on him. I asked: 

" What do )ou pa\- a pound for salt? " 

" A hundred milra\-s." 

" We p.iv fort)-. What do you pa\- for beef and mutton — when }-ou 
bu)- itj*" That was a neat hit; it made the color come. 

" it \arieth some\\ hat, but not much; one may sa}- 75 milrays the 
pound." 

" \Vc pa\- 33. What do you pay for eggs?" 

" Fifty milrays the dozen." 

" We pay 20. What do you pay for beer.'' " 

" It costeth us 8^ milrays the pint." 

"We get it for 4; 25 bottles for a cent. What do you pay for 
wheat.' " 

" At the rate of 900 milrays the bushel." 

" We pay 400. What do }-ou pa}- for a mean's tow-linen suit.' " 

" Thirteen cents." 

" We pa}- 6. What do you pay for a stuff gown for the wife of the 
laborer or the mechanic.'" 

'AVe pay 8. 4. o." 

'AVell, observe the difference: you pay eight cents and four mills, 
WQ. pay only four cents." I prepared, now, to sock it to him. I said: 
" Look here, dear friend, what's bccoiuc of ycnir JiigJi zvagcs you zucre 
bragging so about, a fciv minutes ago? " — and I looked around on the 
company with placid satisfaction, for I had slipped up on him gradually 
and tied him hand and foot, you see, without his ever noticing that he 
was being tied at all. " What's become of those noble high wages of 
yours.' — I seem to have knocked the stuffing all out of them, it appears 
to me." 

But if you will believe me, he merel}- looked surprised, that is all! 
he didn't grasp the situation at all, didn't know he had walked into a 



SIXTH CENTURY POLITICAL ECONOMY. 423 

trap, didn't discov'er that he was /;/ a trap. I could have shot him, from 
sheer \-exation. With cloud)- e}'e and a struggling intellect, he fetched 
this out: 

" Marr}', I seem not to understand. It \'~, proved ^?A. our wages be 
double thine; how then maj' it be that thou'st knocked therefrom the 
-tuffing.' — an I miscall not the wonderly word, this being the first time 
under grace and providence of God it hath been granted me to hear it." 

Well, I was stunned; partly with this unlooked-for stupidity on 
his part, and partly because his fellows so manifestly sided with him 
and were of his mind^ — if you might call it mind. My position was 
simple enough, plain enough; how could it ever be simplified more.-' 
However, I must try: 

" Why, look here, brother Dowley, don't you see.'' Your wages are 
merely higher than ours in name, not mfactr 

" Hear him! They are the double — ye have confessed it yourself" 

"Yes-yes, I don't deny that at all. But that's got nothing to do 
with it; the amount of the wages in mere coins, with meaningless names 
attached to them to know them by, has got nothing to do with it. The 
thing is, how much can you b^ty with your wages.-' — that's the idea. 
While it is true that with you a good mechanic is allowed about three 
dollars and a half a year, and wath us only about a dollar and seventy- 
five — " 

"There — ye're confessing it again, yeVe confessing it again! " 

" Confound it, Tve never denied it I tell you! What I say is this. 
With us half a dollar buys more than a dollar buys with you — and 
therefore it stands to reason and the commonest kind of common sense, 
that our wages are JiigJier than yours." 

He looked dazed, and said, despairingly: 

" Verily, I cannot make it out. Ye've just said ours are the higher, 
and with the same breath ye take it back." 

" Oh, great Scott, isn't it possible to get such a simple thing through 



424 SIXTH CENTURY POLITICAL ECONOMY. 

your head? Now look here — let me illustrate. We pay four cents for 
a woman's stuff gown, you pay 8. 4. 0. which is 4 mills more than dotiblc. 
What do you allow a laboring woman who works on a farm?" 
" Two mills a da)'." 

" Very good; we allow but half as much; we pay her only a tenth 
of a cent a day; and — " 
" Again ye're conf — " 

"Wait! Now, you see, the thing is very simple; this time you'll 
understand it. For instance, it takes your woman 42 days to earn her 
gown, at 2 mills a day — 7 week's work; but ours earns hers in forty 
days — two days short of 7 weeks. Your woman has a gown, and her 
whole seven weeks' wages are gone; ours has a gown, and two days' 
wages left, to buy something else with. There — now you understand it! " 
He looked — well, he merely looked dubious, it's the most I can say; 
so did the others. I waited — to let the thing work. Dowley spoke at 
last — and betrayed the fact that he actually hadn't gotten away from 
his rooted and grounded superstitions yet. He said, with a trifle of 
hesitancy: 

" But — but — ye cannot fail to grant that two mills a day is better 
than one." 

Shucks! Well, of course I hated to give it up. So I chanced another 
flyer: 

" Let us suppose a case. Suppose one of your journeymen goes out 
and buys the following articles: 

" I pound of salt; 
I dozen eggs; 
I dozen pints of beer; 
I bushel of wheat; 
I tow-linen suit; 
5 pounds of beef; 
5 pounds of mutton. 



SIXTH CENTURY POLITICAL ECONOMY. 



425 



"The lot will cost him 32 cents. It takes him 32 working days to 
earn the money — 5 weeks and 2 days. Let him come to us and work 
32 days at half the wages; he can buy all those things for a shade 
under 14^ cents; they will cost him a shade under 29 days' work, and 
he will have about half a week's wages over. Carry it through the 
year; he would save nearly a week's wages every two vaont^xs, your 
man nothing; thus saving five or six weeks' wages in a year, your man 
not a cent. Noiv I reckon you understand that 'high wages' and 'low 
wages ' are phrases that don't mean anything in the world until you 
find out which of them will buy the most! " 

It was a crusher. 

But alas, it didn't crush. No, I had to give it up. What those people 




EVOLUTION. 



valued was high wages; it didn't seem to be a matter of any conse- 
quence to them whether the high wages would buy anything or not. 
They stood for "protection," and swore by it, which was reasonable 
enough, because interested parties had gulled them into the notion that 
it was protection which had created their high wages. I proved to 
them that in a quarter of a century their wages had advanced but 30 
per cent, while the cost of living had gone up 100; and that with us, in 
a shorter time, wages had advanced 40 per cent, while the cost of liv- 
ing had gone steadily down. But it didn't do any good. Nothing could 
unseat their strange beliefs. 

Well, I was smarting under a sense of defeat. Undeserved defeat. 



p 6 ■^J'-y 'I'ff CEXTUR ) ' roLjrn \i i. kcoaom v. 

but what of that? That didn't soften the smart any. And to think of 
the circumstances! the first statesman of the age, the capablest man, 
the best informed man in the entire world, the loftiest uncrowned head 
that had moved through the clouds of any political firmament for cent- 
uries, sitting here apparently defeated in argument by an ignorant coun- 
try blacksmith! And I could sec that those others were sorry for me!^-- 
which made me blush till I could smell my whiskers scorching. Put your- 
self in my place; feel as mean as I did, as ashamed as I felt — wouldn't 
yon have struck below the belt to get even.' Yes, you would; it is simply 
human nature. Well, that is what I did. I am not trying to justify it; 
I'm only saying that I was mad, and anybody would have done it. 

Well, when I make up my mind to hit a man, I don't plan out a 
love-tap; no, that isn't my way; as long as I'm going to hit him at all, 
I'm going to hit him a lifter. And I don't jump at him all of a sudden, 
and risk making a blundering half-way business of it; no, I get away 
off yonder to one side, and work up on him gradually, so that he never 
suspects that I'm going to hit him at all; and by and by, all in a flash, 
he's flat of his back, and he can't tell for the life of him how it all hap- 
pened. That is the way I went for brother Dowley. I started to talk- 
ing lazy and comfortable, as if I was just talking to pass the time; and 
the oldest man in the Avorld couldn't have taken the bearings of my 
starting place and guessed where I was going to fetch up: 

" Boys, there's a good many curious things about law, and custom, 
and usage, and all that sort of thing, when you come to look at it; 
yes, and about the drift and progress of human opinion and movement, 
too. There are written laws — they perish; but there are also unwrit- 
ten laws — they are eternal. Take the unwritten law of wages: it says 
they've got to advance, little by little, straight through the centuries. 
And notice how it works. We know what wages are now, here and 
there and yonder; we strike an average, and say that's the wages of 
to-day. We know what the wages were a hundred years ago, and 



I 



SIXTH CENTURY POLITICAL ECONOMY. 427 

what they were two hundred years ago; that's as far back as we can 
i^et, but it suffices to give us the hiw of progress, the measure and rate 
o{ the periodical augmentation; and so, without a document to help 
us, wc can come pretty close to determining what the wages were three 
and four and five hundred years ago. Good, so far. Do we stop there.-' 
No.' We stop looking backward; we face around and apply the law to 
the future. My friends, I can tell you what people's wages are going 
to be at any date in the future you want to know, for hundreds and 
hundreds of years." 

" What, goodmaiv what! " 

" Yes. In seven hundred years wages will have risen to six times 
what they are now, here in your region, and farm hands will be allowed 
3 cents a day, and mechanics 6." \ 

" I would I might die now and live then! "' interrupted Smug the 
mason, with a fine avaricious glow in his eye. 

"And that isn't all; they'll get their board besides — such as it is: 
it won't bloat them. Two hundred and fifty years later — pay attention, 
now — a mechanic's wages will be — mind you, this is law, not guess- 
work; a mechanic's w^ages will then be tzt'ciity cents a day! " 

There was a general gasp of awed astonishment. Dickon the 
wheelwright murmured, with raised eyes and hands: 

" More than three weeks pay for one day's work! " 

" Riches! — of a truth, yes, riches! " muttered Marco, his breath com- 
ing quick and short, with excitement. 

" Wages will keep on rising, little by little, little by little, as steadily 
as a tree grows, and at the end of three hundred and forty years more 
there'll be at least oiw country where the mechanic's average wage will 
be ttuo hundred cents a day! " 

It knocked them absolutely dumb! Not a man of them could get 
his breath for upwards of two minutes. Then the coalburner said 
prayerfully: 



128 SJXriI CEXTi^KY iO/J77CA /. ECONOMY. 

" Mij^'ht 1 but live to sec it! " 

" It is tiic income of an earl! " said Smu<;[. 

"An carl, say ye?" said Dowley; "ye could say more than that 
and speak no lie; there's no earl in the realm of Bagdemagus that hath 
an income like to that. Income of an earl — mf ! it's the income of an 
angel! " 

" Now then, that is what is going to happen as regards wages. In 
that remote da\-, that man will earn, with one week's work, that bill of 
gootls u liich it takes )-ou upwards oi Jii'c weeks to earn now. Some 
other pretty surprising things are going to happen, too. Brother Dow- 
Icy, who is it that determines, every spring, what the particular wage 
of each kind of mechanic, laborer, and servant shall be for that year.^" 

"Sometimes the courts, sometimes the town council; but most of 
all, the magistrate. Ye may say, in general terms, it is the magistrate 
that fixes the wages." 

" Doesn't ask any of those poor devils to /iclp him fix their wages 
forjjiem, does he.-*" 

" Hm! That were an idea! The master that's to pay him the 
money is the one that's rightly concerned in that matter, ye will notice." 
Yes — but I thought the other man might have some little trifle at 
stake in it, too; and even his wife and children, poor creatures. The 
masters are these: nobles, rich men, the prosperous generally. These 
few, who do no work, determine what pay the vast hive shall have 
who do work. You see.'' They're a ' combine' — a trade union, to coin 
a new phrase — who band themselves together to force their lowly 
brother to take what they choose to give. Thirteen hundred years 
hence — so says the unwritten law — the 'combine' will be the other 
way, and then how these fine people's posterity will fume and fret and 
grit their teeth over the insolent tyranny of trade unions! Yes indeed! 
the magistrate will tranquilly arrange the wages from now clear away 
down into the nineteenth century; and then all of a sudden the wage- 



SIXTH CENTURY POLITICAl. ECOXOMV. 



429 



earner will consider that a couple of thousand years or so is enout^h of 
this one-sided sort of thing; and he will rise up and take a hand in fix- 
ing his wages himself. Ah, he will have a long and bitter account of 
wrong and humiliation to settle." 

" Do ye believe — " 

" That he actually will help to fix his own wages.' Yes, indeed. 
And he will be strong and able, then," 

"Brave times, brave times, of a truth!" sneered the prosperous 
smith. 

" Oh, — and there's another detail. In that day, a master may hire 




DISCREPANCY IN NOSES MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. 



a man for only just one day, or one week, or one month at a time, if 
he wants to." 

t"What.?" 
" It's true. Moreover, a magistrate won't be able to force a man to 
work for a master a whole year on a stretch whether the man wants to 
- or not." 

■ '■ Will there be ?io law or sense in that day.-* " 

■ " Both of them, Dowley. In that day a man will be his own prop- 
erty, not the property of magistrate and master. And he can leave 
town whenever he wants to, if the wages don't suit him! — and they 
can't put him in the pillory for it." 

13* 



430 



SIXTH CEXTUKY POLI'IICAL ECOXOMY. 



•' Perdition catch such an aj^c! " shouted Dowley, in strong indig- 
nation. "An age of dogs, an age barren of reverence for superiors 
and respect for authority! The pillory — " 

" Oh, wait, brother; say no good word for that institution, /think 
the pillory ought to be abolished." 

"A most strange idea. Why.-* " 

" Well, I'll tell you why. Is a man ever put in the pillory for a 
capital crime.'* ' 

" No." 

'• Is it right to condemn a man to a slight punishment for a small 
offense and then kill him.''" 

There was no answer. I had scored my first point! For the first 
time, the smith wasn't up and ready. The company noticed it. Good 
effect. 

" You don't answer, brother. You were about to glorify the pillory 
a while ago, and shed some pity on a future age that isn't going to use 
it. /think the pillory ought to be abolished. What usually happens 
when a poor fellow is put in the pillory for some little offence that 
didn't amount to anything in the world.'' The mob try to have some 
fun with him, don't they.-* " 

"Yes." 

" They begin by clodding him; and they laugh themselves to pieces 
to see him try to dodge one clod and get hit with another.'' " 

"Yes." 

" Then they throw dead cats at him, don't they.''" 

"Yes." 

"Well, .'-.hen, suppose he has a few personal enemies in that mob — 
and her€-^3nB there a man or a woman with a secret grudge against 
him — and suppose especially, that he is unpopular in the community, 
for his pride, or his prosperity, or one thing or another — stones and 
bricks take the place of clods and cats presently, don't they?" 



SIXTH CENTURY POLITICAL ECONOMY. 43 I 

" There is no doubt of it." 

"As a rule he is crippled for life, isn't he? — jaws broken, teeth 
smashed out? — or legs mutilated, gangrened, presently cut off? — or an 
eye knocked out, maybe both eyes?" 

" It is true, God knoweth it." 

"And if he is unpopular he can depend on dying, right there in the 
stocks, can't he?" 

" He surely can! One may not deny it." 

" I take it none o{ yoii are unpopular — by reason of pride or inso- 
lence, or conspicuous prosperity, or any of those things that excite 
envy and malice among the base scum of a village? - You wouldn't 
think it much of a risk to take a chance in the stocks? " 

Dowley winced, visibly. I judged he was hit. But he didn't betray 

it by any spoken word. As for the others, they spoke out plainly, and 

with strong feeling. They said they had seen enough of the stocks to 

know what a man's chance in them was, and they would never consent 

to enter them if they could compromise on a quick death by hanging. 

B " Well, to change the subject — for I think I've established my point 

that the stocks ought to be abolished. I think some of our laws are 

t pretty unfair. For instance, if I do a thing which ought to deliver me 

[ to the stocks, and you know I did it and yet keep still and don't report 

me, you will get the stocks if anybody informs on you." 

"Ah, but that would serve you but right," said Dowley, "for you 
must inform. So saith the law." 

The others coincided. 

"Well, all right, let it go, since you vote me down. But there's 
one thing which certainly isn't fair. The magistrate fixes a mechanic's 
wage at i cent a day, for instance. The law says that if any master 
shall venture even under utmost press of business, to pay anything 
over that cent a day, even for a single day, he shall be both fined and 
pilloried for it; and whoever knows he did it and doesn't inform, they 



432 



srxjji cEXjrk'v political economy. 



also shall be fined and pilloried. Now it seems to me unfair, Dowiey, 
and a deadly peril to all of us, that because you thoughtlessly confessed, 
a while ati^o. that within a week you have paid a cent and fifteen mil — " 
Oh, I tell you it was a smasher! You ought to have seen them go 
to pieces, the whole gang. I had just slipped up on poor smiling and 
complacent Dowiey so nice and easy and softly, that he never sus- 
pected anything was going to happen 
till the blow came crashing down and 
knocked him all to rags. 

A fine effect. In fact as fine as any 
I ever produced, with so little time to 
work it up in. 

But I saw in a moment that I had 
^^^ overdone the thing a little. I was ex- 
pecting to scare them, but I wasn't 
expecting to scare them to death. 
They were mighty near it, though. 
You see they had been a whole life- 
time learning to appreciate the pil- 
lory; and to have that thing staring 
them in the face, and every one of 
them distinctly at the mercy of me, a 
stranger, if I chose to go and report — 
well, it was awful, and they couldn't 
seem to recover from the shock, they 
couldn't seem to pull themselves together. Pale, shaky, dumb, piti- 
ful.^ Why, they weren't any better than so many dead men. It was 
very uncomfortable. Of course I thought they would appeal to me to 
keep mum, and then we would shake hands, and take a drink all 
round, and laugh it off, and there an end. But no; you see I was an 
unknown person, among a cruelly oppressed and suspicious people, 




SIXTH CEXTURY POLITICAL ECOXOMY. 4315 

a people always accustomed to having- advantage taken of thek help- 
lessness, and never expecting just or kind treatment from any but 
their own families and very closest intimates. Appeal to me to be 
gentle, to be fair, to be generous? Of course they wanted to, but 
they couldn't dare. 



I 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 




THE YANKEE AND THE KING SOLD 
AS SLAVES. 

'-^ELL, what had I better do? Nothing in 
a hurry, sure. I must get up a diver- 
sion; anything to employ me while I 
could think, and while these poor fel- 
lows could have a chance to come 
to life again. There sat Marco, 
petrified in the act of trying 
to get the hang of his miller- 
gun — turned to stone, just in 
the attitude he was in when my 
pile-driver fell, the toy still gripped 
in his unconscious fingers. So I 
took it from him and proposed 
to explain its mystery. Mystery! a 
%P^ simple little thing like that; and yet 
it was mystery enough, for that race 
and that age. 
I never saw such an awkward people, 
with machinery; you see, they were totally 
unused to it. The miller-gun was a little 
double - barreled tube 
of toughened glass, 
with a neat little 
trick of a spring to 
it, which upon press- 



.^^S THE YAXKEE AXD THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES. 

lire would let a shot: escape. But the shot wouldn't hurt anybody, 
it would only drop into your hand. In the j^un were two sizes — 
wee mustard -seed shot, and another sort that were several times 
larij^er. They were money. The mustard-seed shot represented mil- 
ra\-s, the larger ones mills. So the gun was a purse; and very handy, 
too; you could pay out money in the dark with it, with accuracy; and 
you could carry it in your mouth; or in your vest pocket, if you had 
one. I made them of several sizes — one size so large that it would 
carry the equivalent of a dollar. Using shot for money was a good 
thing for the government; the metal cost nothing, and the money 
couldn't be counterfeited, for I was the only person in the kingdom 
who knew how to manage a shot tower. " Paying the shot" soon came 
to be a common phrase. Yes, and I knew it would still be passing 
men's lips, away down in the nineteenth century, yet none would sus- 
pect how and when it originated. 

The king joined us, about this time, mightily refreshed by his nap, 
and feeling good. Anything could make me nervous now, I was so 
uneasy — for our lives were in danger; and so it worried me to detect a 
complacent something in the king's eye which seemed to indicate that 
he had been loading himself up for a performance of some kind or other; 
confound it, why must he go and choose such a time as this.'' 

I was right. He began, straight off. in the most innocently artful, 
and transparent, and lubberly way, to lead up to the subject of agri- 
culture. The cold sweat broke out all over me. I wanted to whisper 
in his ear, "Man, we are in awful danger! every moment is worth a 
principality till we get back these men's confidence; dont waste any 
of this golden time." But of course I couldn't do it. Whisper to him.' 
It would look as if we were conspiring. So I had to sit there and look 
calm and pleasant while the king stood over that dynamite mine and 
mooned along about his damned onions and things. At first the tumult 
of my own thoughts, summoned by the danger-signal and swarming 



THE YAA'A'EE AND THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES. 439 

to the rescue from every quarter of my skull, kept up such a hurrah 
and confusion and fifing and drumming that I couldn't take in a word; 
but presently when my mob of gathering plans began to crystalize 
and fall into position and form line of battle, a sort of order and quiet 
ensued and I caught the boom of the king's batteries, as if out of re- 
mote distance: 

" — were not the best way, methinks, albeit it is not to be denied 
that authorities differ as concerning this point, some contending that 
the onion is but an unwholesome berry when stricken early from the 
tree — " 

The audience showed signs of life, and sought each other's eyes in 
a surprised and troubled way. 

" — whileas others do yet maintain, with much show of reason, that 
this is not of necessity the case, instancing that plums and other like 
cereals do be always dug in the unripe state — " 

The audience exhibited distinct distress; yes, and also fear. 

" — yet are they clearly wholesome, the more especially when one 
doth assuage the asperities of their nature by admixture of the tran- 
quilizing juice of the wayward cabbage — " 

The wild light of terror began to glow in these men's eyes, and one 
of them muttered, " These be errors, every one — God hath surely 
smitten the mind of this farmer." I was in miserable apprehension; I 
sat upon thorns. 

" — and further instancing the known truth that in the case of ani- 
mals, the young, which may be called the green fruit of the creature, 
is the better, all confessing that when a goat is ripe, his fur doth heat 
and sore engame his flesh, the which defect, taken in connection with 
his several rancid habits, and fulsome appetites, and godless attitudes 
of mind, and bilious quality of morals — " 

They rose and went for him! With a fierce shout, " The one would 
betray us, the other is mad! Kill them! Kill them! " they flung them- 



7 . jff.'yy. ^^/ 



■ ^^c^^ ■■■■ 




" HE WAS HUNGRY FOR A FIGHT. 
440 



L 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES. 44 1 

selves upon us. What joy flamed up in the king's eye! He might be 
lame in agriculture, but this kind of thing was just in his line. He had 
been fasting long, he was hungry for a fight. He hit the blacksmith a 
crack under the jaw that lifted him clear off his feet and stretched him 
flat of his back. " St. George for Britain! " and he downed the wheel- 
wright. The mason was big, but I laid him out like nothing. The 
three gathered themselves up and came again; went down again; came 
again; and kept on repeating this, with native British pluck, until they 
were battered to jelly, reeling with exhaustion, and so blind that they 
couldn't tell us from each other; and yet they kept right on, hammering 
away with what might was left in them. Hammering each other — for 
we stepped aside and looked on while they rolled, and struggled, and 
gouged, and pounded, and bit, with the strict and wordless attention 
to business of so many bulldogs. We looked on without apprehension, 
for they were fast getting past ability to go for help against us, and the 
arena was far enough from the public road to be safe from intrusion. 

Well, while they were gradually playing out, it suddenly occurred 
to me to wonder what had become of Marco. I looked around; he 
was nowhere to be seen. Oh, but this was ominous! I pulled the 
king's sleeve, and we glided away and rushed for the hut. No Marco 
there, no Phyllis there! They had gone to the road for help, sure. I 
told the king to give his heels wings, and I would explain later. We 
made good time across the open ground, and as we darted into the 
shelter of the wood I glanced back and saw a mob of excited peasants 
swarm into view, with Marco and his wife at their head. They were 
making a world of noise, but that couldn't hurt anybody; the wood was 
dense, and as soon as we were well into its depths we would take to a 
tree and let them whistle. Ah, but then came another sound — dogs! 
Yes, that was quite another matter. It magnified our contract — we 
must find running water. 

We tore along at a good gait, and soon left the sounds far behind 



442 



77/A )'./.\'A'/-7-; .IX/) THE k'lXC SOLD AS SLAVES. 



ami mollified to a nnirniur. W'c struck a stream and darted into it. We 
waded swiftlv- down it, in the dim forest li^ht, for as much as three 
hundred yards, and then came across an oak with a ^rcat bough stick- 
ing out over the water. We climbed up on this bough, and began to 
work our way along it to the body of the tree; now we began to hear 
those sound^5 more plainly; so the mob had struck our trail. For a 
while the sounds approached pretty fast. And then for another while 
they didn't. No doubt the dogs had found the place where we had 
entered the stream, and were now waltzing up and down the shores 
tr\-ing to pick up the trail again. 

When we were snugly lodged in the tree and curtained with foliage, 
the king was satisfied, but I was doubtful. I believed we could crawl 
along a branch and get into the next tree, and I judged it worth while 
to try. We tried it, and made a success of it, though the king slipped, 
at the junction, and came near failing to connect. We got comfortable 
lodgement ana satisfactory concealment among the foliage, and then 
we had nothing to do but listen to the hunt. 

Presently we heard it coming — and coming on the jump, too; yes, 
and down both sides of the stream. Louder — louder — next minute it 
swelled swiftly up into a roar of shoutings, barkings, tramplings, and 
swept by like a cyclone. 

" I was afraid that the overhanging branch would suggest some- 
thing to them," said I, "but I don't mind the disappointment. Come, 
my liege, it were well that we make good use of our time. We've 
flanked them. Dark is coming on, presently. If we can cross the 
stream and get a good start, and borrow a couple of horses from some- 
body's pasture to use for a few hours, we shall be safe enough." 

We started down, and got nearly to the lowest limb, when we 
seemed to hear the hunt returning. We stopped to listen. 

" Yes," said I, " they're baffled, they've given it up, they're on their 
way home. We will climb back to our roost again, and let them go by." 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING SOLD AS SLA FES. 



443 



So we climbed back. The king listened a moment and said: 

*' They still search — I wit the sign. We did best to abide." 

He was right. He knew more about hunting than I did. The noise 

approached steadily, but not with a rush. The king said: 

" They reason that we were advantaged by no parlous start of them, 

and being on foot are as yet no mighty way from where we took the 

water." 

" Yes, sire, that is about it, I am afraid, though I was hoping better 

things." 

The noise drew nearer and nearer, and soon the van was drifting 




" YES, SIRE, THAT IS ABOUT IT, I AM AFRAID." 

) 

lunder us, on both sides of the water. A voice called a halt from the 
other bank, and said: 

" An they were so minded, they could get to yon tree by this 
branch that overhangs, and yet not touch ground. Ye will do well to 
send a man up it." 

" Marry, that will we do!" 

I was obliged to admire my cuteness in foreseeing this very thing 
and swapping trees to beat it. But don't you know, there are some 
things that can beat smartness and foresight.-* Awkwardness and stu- 
pidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the 



444 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES. 



second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be 
afraid of is some is^niorant anta<^onist who has never had a sword in his 
hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert 
isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do: and often 
it catches the cxi)ert out and ends him on the spot. Well, how could 
I. with all my gifts, make any valuable preparation against a near- 
sighted, cross-eyed pudding-headed clown who would aim himself at 
the wrong tree and hit the right one? And that is what he did. He 
went for the wrong tree, which was of course the right one by mistake, 
and up he started. 

Matters were serious, now. We remained still, and awaited devel- 
opments. The peasant toiled his difficult way up. The king raised 
himself up and stood; he made a leg ready, and when the comer's head 
arrived in reach of it there was a dull thud, and down went the man 
floundering to the ground. There was a wild outbreak of anger, below, 
and the mob swarmed in from all around, and there we were treed, and 
prisoners. Another man started up; the bridging bough was detected, 
and a volunteer started up the tree that furnished the bridge. The 
king ordered me to play Horatius and keep the bridge. For a while 
the enemy came thick and fast; but no matter, the head man of each 
procession always got a buffet that dislodged him as soon as he came 
in reach. The king's spirits rose, his joy was limitless. He said that 
if nothing occurred to mar the prospect we should have a beautiful 
night, for on this line of tactics we could hold the tree against the 
whole countryside. 

However, the mob soon came to that conclusion themselves; where- 
fore they called off the assault and began to debate other plans. They 
had no weapons, but there were plenty of stones, and stones might 
answer. We had no objections. A stone might possibly penetrate to 
us once in a while, but it wasn't very likely; we were well protected 
by boughs and foliage, and were not visible from any good aiming- 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES. 445 

point. If they would but waste half an hour in stone-throwing, the 
dark would come to our help. We were feeling very well satisfied. 
We could smiie; almost laugh. 

But wc didn't; which was just as well, for we should have been in- 
terrupted. Before the stones had been raging through the leaves and 
bouncing from the boughs fifteen minutes, we began to notice a smell. 
A couple of sniffs of it was enough of an explanation: it was smoke! 
Our game was up at last. We recognized that. When smoke invites 
you. you have to come. They raised their pile of dry brush and damp 
weeds higher and higher, and when they saw the thick cloud begin to 
roll up and smother the tree, they broke out in a storm of joy-clamors. 
I got enough breath to say: 

" Proceed, my liege; after you is manners." 

The king gasped: 

" Follow me down, and then back thyself against one side of the 
trunk, and leave me the other. Then will we fight. Let each pile his 
dead according to his own fashion and taste." 

Then he descended barking and coughing, and I followed. I struck 
tlie ground an instant after him; we sprang to our appointed places, 
;'.nd began to give and take with all our might. The pow-wow and 
• icket were prodigious; it was a tempest of riot and confusion and 
:hick-falling blows. Suddenly some horsemen tore into the midst of 
the crowd, and a voice shouted: 

" Hold — or ye are dead men! " 

How good it sounded! The owner of the voice bore all the marks 
of a gentleman: -picturesque and costly raiment, the aspect of com- 
mand, a hard countenance, with complexion and features marred by 
dissipation. The mob fell humbly back, like so many spaniels. 
The gentleman inspected us critically, then said sharply to the 
peasants: 

" What are ye doing to these people.'' " 



446 ^^^ YAXKEE AND THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES. 

" They be madmen, worshipful sir. that have come wanderin^j we 
know not whence, and — " 

" Ye know not whence? Do ye pretend ye know them not? " 

'* Most honored sir, we speak but the truth. They arc strangers 
and unknown to an)- in this region; and they be the most violent and 
bloodthirsty madmen that ever — " 

" Peace! Ye know not what ye say. They are not mad. Who 
are ye? And whence are ye? Explain." 

" We are but peaceful strangers, sir," I said, " and traveling upon 
our own concerns. We are from a far country, and unacquainted here. 
We have purposed no harm; and yet but for your brave interference 
and protection these people would have killed us. As you have divined, 
sir, we are not mad; neither are we violent or bloodthirsty." 

The gentleman turned to his retinue and said calmly: 

" Lash me these animals to their kennels! " 

The mob vanished in an instant; and after them plunged the horse- 
men, laying about them with their whips and pitilessly riding down 
such as were witless enough to keep the road instead of taking to the 
bush. The shrieks and supplications presently died away in the dis- 
tance, and soon the horsemen began to straggle back. Meantime the 
gentleman had been questioning us more closely, but had dug no par- 
ticulars out of us. We were lavish of recognition of the service he was 
doing us, but we revealed nothing more than that we were friendless 
strangers from a far country. When the escort were all returned, the 
gentleman said to one of his servants: 

" Bring the led horses and mount these people." 

" Yes, my lord." 

We were placed toward the rear, among the servants. We traveled 
pretty fast, and finally drew rein some time after dark at a roadside inn 
some ten or twelve miles from the scene of our troubles. My lord 
went immediately to his room, after ordering his supper, and we saw 



THE YANKEE AXD THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES. 



447 



no more of him. At dawn in tlic morning wc breakfasted and made 
ready to start. 

My lord's chief attendant sauntered forward at that moment with 
indolent grace, and said: 

" Ye have said ye should continue upon this road, which is our 
direction likewise; wherefore my lord, the earl Grip, hath given com- 
mandment that ye retain the horses and ride, and that certain of us 
ride with ye a twenty mile to a fair town that hight Cambenet, whenso 
ye shall be out of peril." 

We could do nothing less than express our thanks and accept the 



-"^^ 



offer. We jogged along, six in the 
party, at a moderate and comfort- 
able gait, and in conversation learn- 
ed that my lord Grip was a very 
great personage in his own region, 
which lay a day's journey beyond 
Cambenet. We loitered to such a 
degree that it was near the middle 
of the forenoon when we entered the 
market square of the town. We dis- 
mounted, and left our thanks once 
more for my lord, and then approach- 
ed a crowd assembled in the centre 
of the square, to see what might be the object of interest. It was the 
remnant of that old peregrinating band of slaves! So they had been 
dragging their chains about, all this weary time. That poor husband 
was gone, and also many others; and some few purchases had been 
added to the gang. The king was not interested, and wanted to move 
along, but I was absorbed, and full of pity. I could not take my eyes 
away from these worn and wasted wrecks of humanity. There they 
sat, grouped upon the ground, silent, uncomplaining, with bowed 




THE ORATOR. 



44^ THE YAXKEE AXD THE k'lXG SOLD AS SLAVES. 

heads, ;i pathetic sij^ht. And by hideous contrast, a redundant orator 
was makint; a speech to another gathering not thirty steps away, in 
fulsome laudation of " our glorious British liberties! " 

I was boiling. I had forgotten I was a plebeian, I was remember- 
ing I was a man. Cost what it might, I would mount that rostrum and — 

Click! the king and I were handcuffed together! Our companions, 
those servants, had done it; my lord Grip stood looking on. The king 
burst out in a fury, and said: 

" What meaneth this ill-mannered jest.^" 

My lord merely said to his head miscreant, coolly: 

" Put up the slaves and sell them!" 

Slaves! The word had a new sound — and how unspeakably awful! 
The king lifted his manacles and brought them down with a deadly 
force; but my lord was out of the way when they arrived. A dozen of 
the rascal's servants sprang forward, and in a moment we were help- 
less, with our hands bound behind us. We so loudly and so earnestly 
proclaimed ourselves freemen, that we got the interested attention of 
that liberty-mouthing orator and his patriotic crowd, and they gath- 
ered about us and assumed a very determined attitude. The orator said : 

" If indeed ye are freemen, ye have nought to fear — the God-given 
liberties of Britain are about ye for your shield and shelter! (Applause. ) 
Ye shall soon see. Bring forth your proofs." 

" What proofs .'" 

" Proof that ye are freemen." 

Ah — I remembered! I came to myself; I said nothing But the 
king stormed out: 

" Thou'rt insane, man. It were better, and more in reason, that 
this thief and scoundrel here prove that we are not freemen." 

You see, he knew his own laws just as other people so often know 
the laws: by words, not by effects. They take a vicaniui^, and get to 
be very vivid, when you come to apply them to yourself. 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES. 44Q 

All hands shook their heads and looked disappointed; some turned 
away, no longer interested. The orator said — and this time in the 
tones of business, not of sentiment: 

" An ye do not know your country's laws, it were time ye learned 
them. Ye are strangers to us; ye will not deny that. Ye may be 
freemen, we do not deny that; but also ye may be slaves. The law 
is clear: it doth not require the claimant to prove ye are slaves, it re- 
quireth you to prove ye are notT 

I said: 

" Dear sir, give us only time to send to Astolat; or give us only time 
to send to the Valley of Holiness — " 

" Peace, good man, these are extraordinary requests, and you may 
not hope to have them granted. It would cost much time, and would 
unwarrantably inconvenience your master — " 

""Master, idiot!" stormed the king. "I have no master, I myself 
am the m " 

" Silence, for God's sake!" 

I got the words out in time to stop the king. We were in trouble 
enough already; it could not help us any to give these people the 
notion that we were lunatics. 

There is no use in stringing out the details. The earl put us up 
and sold us at auction. This same infernal law had existed in our own 
South in my own time, more tlian thirteen hundred years later, and 
under it hundreds of freemen who could not prove that they were free- 
men had been sold into life-long slavery without the circumstance 
making any particular impression upon me; but the minute law and 
the auction block came into my personal experience, a thing which 
had been merely improper before became suddenly hellish. Well, 
that's the way we are made. 

Yes, we were sold at auction, like swine. In a big town and an act- 
ive market we should have brought a good price; but this place was 
14 



45^ 



THE VAX KEF. AXD EHE X/A'C SO /J) IS S LAVES. 



Utterly stagnant and so \vc sold at a figure which makes me ashamed, 
every time I think of it. The King of England brought seven dollars, 
and his prime minister nine; whereas the king was easily worth twelve 
dollars and I as casil}- worth fifteen. But that is tiic way things 
always go; if you force a sale on a dull market, I don't care what the 
property is, you are going to make a poor business of it, and you can 
make up your mind to it. If the carl had had wit enough to — 




"WE CONSTITUTED THE RE.-^R OF HIS PROCESSION." 



However, there is no occasion for my working my sympathies up 
on his account. Let him go, for the present: I took his number, so to 
speak. 

The slave dealer bought us both, and hitched us onto that long 
chain of his, and we constituted the rear of his procession. We took 
up our line of march and passed out of Cambenet at noon; and it 
seemed to me unaccountably strange and odd that the King of Eng- 



THE YANKEE AND THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES. 45 I 

land and his chief minister, marching manacled and fettered and 
yoked, in a slave convoy, could move by all manner of idle men and 
women, and under windows where sat the sweet and the lovely, and 
yet never attract a curious eye, never provoke a single remark. Dear, 
dear, it only shows that there is nothing diviner about a king than 
there is about a tramp, after all. He is just a cheap and hollow artifi- 
ciality when you don't know he is a king. But reveal his quality, and 
dear me it takes your very breath away to look at him. I reckon we 
are all fools. Born so, no doubt. 



CHAPTER XXXV. 



A PITIFl'L INCIDENT. 



■ mai 



th is re ason 
soa__kiiigL: 
automatic 
man, he is 



~^ T'S a world of surprises. The king brooded; 
this was natural. What would he brood about, 
should you sa}-.' Why, about the prodigious 
nature of his fall, of course — from the loftiest 
place in the world to the lowest; from the most 
illustrious station in the world to the obscurest; 
from the grandest vocation among men to the 
basest. No, I take my oath that the thing that 
graveled him most, to start with, was not this, but 
le price he had fetched ! He 
:ouldn't seem to get over that 
seven dollars. Well, it stunned 
me so, when I first found it out, 
that I couldn't believe it; 
it didn't seem natural. 
But as soon as my men- 
tal sight cleared and I got 
a right focus on it, I saw I 
was mis- 
^ taken: it 
IV as nat- 
ural. For 
a king is a mere artificiality, and 
ings, like the im pulses of an 
mere artificialities ; but as a 
his feelings, as a man, are real, not 




doll, are %, 
a reality, and 



456 



A riTIFUI. JXCIDEXT. 



phantoms. It shames the avcrai^c man to be valued below his own 
estimate of his worth; and the Vwvg certainly wasn't anything more 
than an averai^^e man, if he was up that hit^h. 

Confouml him. lie wearied me with ari^niments to show that in any- 
thin;4 Hke a fair market he wouhl ha\e fetched twenty-five dollars, sure 
— a thinij which was plainly nonsense, and full of the baldest conceit; 
I wasn't worth it myself. But it was tender ground for me to argue 
on. In fact I had to simply shirk argument and do the diplomatic in- 
l stead. I had to throw conscience aside, and brazenly concede that he 
I ought to have brought twenty-five dollars; whereas I was quite well 
1 aware that in all the ages, the world had never seen a king that was 
worth half the money, and during the next thirteen centuries wouldn't 
\ see one that was worth the fourth of it. Yes, he tired me. If he began 
to talk about the crops; or about the recent weather; or about the 
condition of politics, or about dogs, or cats, or morals, or theology — 
no matter what — I sighed, for I knew what was coming: he was going 
to get out of it a palliation of that tiresome seven-dollar sale. Wher- 
ever we halted, where there was a crowd, he would give me a look 
which said, plainly: " if that thing could be tried over again, now, with 
this kind of folk, you would see a different result." Well, when he 
was first sold, it secretly tickled me to see him go for seven dollars; 
but before he was done with his sweating and worrying I wished he 
had fetched a hundred. The thing never got a chance to die, for 
every day, at one place or another, possible purchasers looked us o\'er, 
and as often as any other way, their comment on the king was some- 
thing like this: 

•' Here's a two-dollar-and-a-half chump with a thirty-dollar style. 
Pity but st)-le was marketable." 

At last this sort of remark produced an evil result. Our owner was 
a practical person and he perceived that this defect must be mended if 
he hoped to find a purchaser for the king. So he went to work to take 



A PITIFUL INCIDENT. 



457 



the style out of his sacred majesty. I could have given the xnaTi some 
valuable advice, but I didn't; you mustn't volunteer advice to a slave- 
driver unless you want to damage the cause you are arguing for. I had 
found it a sufficiently difficult job to reduce the king's style to a peas- 
ant's style, even when he was a willing and anxious pupil; now then, 
to undertake to reduce the king's style to a slave's style — and by force 
— go to! it was a stately contract. Never mind the details — it will save 
me trouble to let you imagine them. I will only remark that at the 
end of a week there was plenty of evidence that lash and club and fist 




ON THE TRAMP. 



had done their work well; the king's body was a sight to see — and to 
weep over; but his spirit.'' — why, it wasn't even phased. Even that dull 
clod of a slave-driver was able to see that there can be such a thing as 
a slave who will remain a man till he dies; whose bones you can break, 
but whose manhood you can't. This man found that from his first effort 
down to his latest, he couldn't ever come within reach of the king but 
the king was ready to plunge for him, and did it. So he gave up, at 
last, and left the king in possession of his style unimpaired. The fact 



4vS A PITIFUL IXCIDEXT. 

is. the ikil'lj was a p^ood tlcal more than a king, he was a man; and 
when a man is a man. you can't knock it out of him. 

We had a routjh time for a month, trampint^ to and fro in the earth, 
and sufferin,i^^ Ami what Kni^dishman was the most interested in the 
shi\cT\- tiucstion l)\- thai tiinc.' His i^race the kini^! Ves; from being 
the most iniHlfcrciit, lie was become the most interested. He was be- 
come the bitterest hater of the institution 1 had ever heard talk. And 
so I ventured to ask once more a question which I had asked years 
before and had gotten such a sharp answer that I had not thought it 
prudent to meddle in the matter further. Would he abolish slavery.' 

His answer was as sharp as before, but it was music this time; I 
shouldn't ever wish to hear pleasanter, though the profanity was not 
good, being awkwardly put together, and with the crash-word almost 
in the middle instead of at the end, where of course it ought to have 
been. 

I was ready and willing to get free, now; I hadn't wanted to get 
free any sooner. No, I cannot quite say that. I had wanted to, but I 
had not been willing to take desperate chances, and had always dis- 
suaded the king from them. But now — ah, it was a new atmosphere! 
Liberty would be worth an}- cost that might be put upon it now. I set 
about a plan, and was straightway charmed with it. It would require 
time, yes, and patience, too, a great deal of both. One could invent 
quicker ways, and fully as sure ones; but none that would be as pict- 
uresque as this; none that could be made so dramatic. And so I was 
not going to give this one up. It might delay us months, but no mat- 
ter, I would carry it out or break something. 

Now and then we had an adventure. One night we were overtaken 
by a snow-storm while still a mile from the village we were making 
for. Almost instantly we were shut up as in a fog, the driving snow 
was so thick. You couldn't see a thing, and we were soon lost. The 
slave-driver lashed us desperately, for he saw ruin before him, but his 



A PITIFUL INCIDENT. 



459 



lashini^s o\\\\ m;idc matters worse, for they drove us further from the 
road and from likelihood of succor. So we had to stop, at last, and 
slump down in the snow where we were. The storni continued until 
toward midnight, then ceased. By this time two of our feebler men 
and three of our women were dead, and others past moving- and threat- 
ened with death. Our master was nearly beside himself He stirred 
up the living and made us stand, jump, slap ourselves, to restore our 
circulation, and he helped as well as he could with his whip. 

Now came a diversion. We heard shrieks and yells, and soon a 
woman came running, and crying; and seeing our group, she flung 
herself into our midst and begged for protection. A mob of people 
came tearing after her, some with torches, and they said she was a 
witch who had caused several cows to die by a strange disease, and 
practiced her arts by help of a devil in the form of a black cat. This 
poor woman had been stoned until she hardly looked human, she was 
so battered and bloody. The mob wanted to burn her. 

Well, now, what do you suppose our master did.'' When we closed 
around this poor creature to shelter her, he saw his chance. He said, 
burn her here, or they shouldn't have her at all. Imagine that! They 
were willing. They fastened her to a post; they brought wood and 
piled it about her ; they applied the torch while she shrieked and 
pleaded and strained her two young daughters to her breast; and our 
brute, with a heart solely for business, lashed us into position about 
the stake and warmed us into life and commercial value by the same 
fire which took away the innocent life of that poor harmless mother. 
That was the sort of master we had. I took Jiis number. That snow- 
storm cost him nine of his flock; and he was more brutal to us than 
ever, after that, for many days together, he was so enraged over his 
loss. 

We had adventures, all along. One day we ran into a procession. 
And such a procession! All the riff-raff of the kingdom seemed to be 



4t)0 



A PITIFUL INCIDENT. 



comprclicndcd in it; and all drunk at that. In the van was a cart with 
a coffin in it, and on the coffin sat a comely young girl of about eight- 
een suckling a bab>', which she squeezed to her breast in a passion of 
love c\'er}' little while, and every little while wiped from its face the 
tears which her eyes rained down upon it; and always the foolish little 
thing smiled up at her, happy and content, kneading her breast with 




SLAVES WARMING THEMSELVES. 



its, dimpled fat hand, which she patted and fondled right over her 
breaking heart. 

Men and women, boys and girls, trotted along beside or after the 
cart, hooting, shouting profane and ribald remarks, singing snatches of 
foul song, skipping, dancing — a very holiday of hellions, a sickening 
sight. We had struck a suburb of London, outside the walls, and this 



A PITIFUL INCIDENT. 46 1 

was a sample of one sort of London society. Our master secured a 
good place for us near the gallows. A priest was in attendance, and 
he helped the girl climb up, and said comforting words to her, and 
made the under-sheriff provide a stool for her. Then he stood there 
by her on the gallows, and for a moment looked down upon the mass 
of upturned faces at his feet, then out over the solid pavement of heads 
that stretched away on every side occupying the vacancies far and 
near, and then began to tell the story of the case. And there was pity 
in his voice — how seldom a sound that was in that ignorant and sav- 
age land! I remember every detail of what he said, except the words 
he said it in; and so I change it into my own words: 

" Law is intended to mete out justice. Sometimes it fails. This 
cannot be helped. We can only grieve, and be resigned, and pray for 
the soul of him who falls unfairly by the arm of the law, and that his 
fellows may be few. A law sends this poor young thing to death — and 
it is right. But another law had placed her where she must commit 
her crime or starve, with her child — and before God that law is respon- 
sible for both her crime and her ignominious death! 

"A little while ago this young thing, this child of eighteen years, 
was as happy a wife and mother as any in England; and her lips were 
blithe with song, which is the native speech of glad and innocent 
hearts. Her young husband was as happy as she; for he was doing 
his whole duty, he worked early and late at his handicraft, his bread 
was honest bread well and fairly earned, he was prospering, he was 
furnishing shelter and sustenance to his family, he was adding his mite 
to the wealth of the nation. By consent of a treacherous law, instant 
destruction fell upon this holy home and swept it away! That young j 
husband was waylaid and impressed, and sent to sea. The wife knew 
nothing of it. She sought him everywhere, she moved the hardest 
hearts with the supplications of her tears, the broken eloquence of her 
despair. Weeks dragged by, she watching, waiting, hoping, her mind 



462 



A PITIFUL INCIDENT. 



going slowly to wreck under the burden of her misery. Little by little 
all her small possessions went for food. When she could no longer 
pay her rent, they ♦:urned her out of doors. She begged, while she had 
strength; when she was starving, at last, and her milk failing, she stole a 
piece of linen cloth of the value of a fourth part of a cent, thinking to 
sell it and save her child. But she was seen by the owner of the cloth. 
She was put in jail and brought to trial. The man testified to the 
facts. A plea was made for her, and her sorrowful story was told in 
her behalf. She spoke, too, by permission, and said she did steal the 




" A SAMPLE OF ONE SORT OF LONDON SOCIETY." 



cloth, but that her mind was so disordered of late, by trouble, that 
when she was overborne with hunger all acts, criminal or other, swam 
meaningless through her brain and she knew nothing rightly, except 
that she was so hungry! For a moment all were touched, and there 
was disposition to deal mercifully with her, seeing that she was so 
young and friendless, and her case so piteous, and the law that robbed 
her of her support to blame as being the first and only cause of her 
transgression; but the prosecuting officer replied that whereas these 
things were all true, and most pitiful as well, still there was much 



A PITIFUL INCIDENT. ij • 463 

small theft in these da}\s, and mistimed mercy liere would be a danger 
to propert}' — Oh, my God, is there no property in ruined homes, and 
orphaned babes, and broken hearts that British law holds precious! — 
and so he must require sentence. 

"When the judge put on his black cap, the owner of the stolen 
linen rose trembling up, his lip quivering, his face as gray as ashes; 
and when the awful words came, he cried out, "Oh, poor child, poor 
child, I did not know it was death ! " and fell as a tree falls. When 
they lifted him up his reason was gone; before the sun was set, he 
had taken his own life. A kindly man; a man whose heart was right, 
\ bottom; add his murder to this that is to be now done here; and 
charge them both where they belong — to the rulers and the bitter laws 
of Britain. The time is come, my child; let me pray over thee — not 
for thee, dear abused poor heart and innocent, but for them that be 
guilty of thy ruin and death, who need it more." 

After his prayer they put the noose around the young girl's neck, 
and they had great trouble to adjust the knot under her ear, because 
she was devouring the baby all the time, wildly kissing it, and snatch- 
ing it to her face and her breast, and drenching it with tears, and 
half moaning half shrieking all the while, and the baby crowing, and 
laughing, and kicking its feet with delight over what it took for romp 
and play. Even the hangman couldn't stand it, but turned away. 
When all was ready the priest gently pulled and tugged and forced the 
child out of the mother's arms, and stepped quickly out of her reach; 
but she clasped her hands, and made a wild spring toward him, with a 
shriek; but the rope — and the under-sheriff — held her short. Then 
she went on her knees and stretched out her hands and cried: 

" One more kiss — Oh, my God, one more, one more, — it is the dying 
that begs it! " 

She got it; she almost smothered the little thing. And when they 
got it away again, she cried out: 



^64 f -■' PITIFUL INCIDKNT. 

"Oil, my child, my darling, it will die! It has no honif, it has no 
lather, no friend, no mother — " 

"It has them all! " said that good priest. " All these will 1 be to 
it till I die." 

You should have seen her face then! Gratitude.'' Lord, what do 
you want with words to express that.'' Words are only painted fire; 
a look i.s_tli£ .fire itself. She gave that look,_and_carried it away to the 
treasury of heaven, _where_all things that are divine belong. 




14* 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 



AN ENCOUNTER IN 
THE DARK. 



-^ 




\/^ ONDON — to a slave — was a sufficiently inter- 
esting place. It was merely a great big village; 
^i;;;^^) and mainly mud and thatch. The streets 
were muddy, crooked, unpaved. The 
populace was an ever flocking and drift- 
ing swarm of rags, and splendors, of 
nodding plumes and shining armor. 
The king had a palace there; he saw 
the outside of it. It made him sigh; 
yes, and swear a little, in a poor juven- 
ile sixth century way. We saw knights 
and grandees whom we knew, but they 
didn't know us in our rags and dirt and 
raw welts and bruises, and wouldn't have 
recognized us if we had hailed them, nor 
stopped to answer, either, it being un- 
lawful to speak with slaves on a chain. 
Sandy passed within ten yards of me on 
a mule — hunting for me, I imagined. But 
the thing which clean broke my heart 
was some- ^ thing which happened in 
fronc of our old barrack 

^^-==-=*^-=2^ €imr ^^ ^ square, while 

^»^ we were en- 
during the 




46S 



AN ENCOUNTER IN THE DARK. 



spectacle of a mm bcini; boiled to death in oil for counterfeiting pen- 
nies. It was the sight of a newsboy — and I couldn't get at him! Still, 
I had one comfort; here was proof that Clarence was still alive and 
ban""in"" away. I meant to be with him before long; the thought was 
full (if cheer. 

I ha 1 one little glimpse of another thing, one day, which gave me a 
gre.it uplift. It was a wire stretching from housetop to housetop. Tele- 
graph or telephone, sure. I did very much wish I had a little piece of it. 
It was just what I needed, in order to carry out my project of escape. 
My idea was, to get loose some night, along with the king, then gag 
and bind our master, change clothes with him, batter him into the 




"merely a great big village." 

aspect of a stranger, hitch him to the slave-chain, assume possession 
of the property, march to Camelot, and — 

But you get my idea; you see what a stunning dramatic surprise I 
would wind up with at the palace. It was all feasible, if I could only 
get hold of a slender piece of iron which I could shape into a lock- 
pick. I could then undo the lumbering padlocks with which our chains 
were fastened, whenever I might choose. But I never had any luck; 
no such thing ever happened to fall in my way. However, my chance 
came at last. A gentleman who had come twice before to dicker for 
me, without result, or indeed any approach to a result, came again. I 
was far from expecting ever to belong to him, for the price asked for 



A.V ENCOUXTEJi IX THE DAKA'. 



469 



me from the time I was first enslaved was exorbitant, and always pro- 
voked either anger or derision, yet my master stuck stubbornly to it — 
twenty-two dollars. He wouldn't bate a cent. The kini^ was greatly 
admired, because of his grand physique, but his kingly style was 
against him, and he wasn't salable; nobody wanted that kind of a 
slave. I considered myself safe from parting from him because of my 
extravagant price. No, I was not expecting to ever belong to this 
gentleman whom I have 
spoken of, but he had some- 
thing which I expected 
\/ould belong to me event- 
ually, if he would but visit 
us often enough. It Avas a 
steel thing with a long pin 
to it, with which his long 
cloth outside garment was 
fastened together in front. 
There were three of them. 
He had disappointed me 
twice, because he did not 
come quite close enough to 
me to make my project en- 
tirely safe; but this time I 

succeeded; I captured the lower clasp of the three, and when he 
missed it he thought he had lost it on the way. 

I had a chance to be glad about a minute, then straightway a chance 
I to be sad again. For when the purchase was about to fail, as usual, 
the master suddenly spoke up and said what would be worded thus — 
in modern English: 

" I'll tell you what I'll do. I'm tired supporting these two for no good. 
Give me twenty-two dollars for this one, and I'll throw the other one in." 




SANDY RODE BY ON A MULE. 



4 JO 



A.V ENCOUNTER IN THE DARK. 



The king couldn't get his breath, he was in such a fury. He began 
til clioke and gag, and meantime the master and the gentleman moved 
awa)', discussing. 

" An )e will keep the offer open — " 

" 'Tis open till the morrow at this hour." 

" Then will I answer you at that time," said the gentleman, and 
disappeared, the master following him. 

1 had a time of it to cool the king down, but I managed it. I whis- 
pered in his ear, to this effect: 

"Your grace Ci-/// go for nothing, but after another fashion. And 
so shall I. To-night we shall both be free." 

"Ah! How is that.'" 

"With this thing which I have stolen,! will unlock these locks and 
cast off these chains to-night. When he comes about nine-thirty to 
inspect us for the night, we will seize him, gag him, batter him, and 
early in the morning we will march out of this town, proprietors of this 
caravan of slaves." 

That was as far as I went, but the king was charmed and satisfied. 
That evening we waited patiently for our fellow-slaves to get to sleep 
and signify it by the usual sign, for you must not take many chances 
on those poor fellows if you can avoid it. It is best to keep your own 
secrets. No doubt they fidgeted only about as usual, but it didn't seem 
so to me. It seemed to me that they were going to be forever getting 
down to their regular snoring. As the time dragged on I got nerv- 
ously afraid we shouldn't have enough of it left for our needs; so I made 
several premature attempts, and merely delayed things by it; for I 
couldn't seem to touch a padlock, there in the dark, without starting 
a rattle out of it which interrupted somebody's sleep and made him 
turn over and wake some more of the (^ang-. 

But finally I did get my last iron off, and was a free man once more. 
I took a good breath of relief, and reached for the king's irons. Too 



AN EMCOU.Vl'ER IN THE DAKK. 



471 



late! in comes the master, with a light in one hand and his heavy walk- 
ing-staff in the other. I snuggled close among the wallow of snorers, 
to conceal as nearly as possible that I was naked of irons; and I kept 
a sharp lookout and prepared to spring for my man the moment he 
should bend over me. 

But he didn't approach. He stopped, gazed absently toward our 
dusky mass a minute, evidently thinking about something else; then 
set down his light, moved musingly toward the door, and before a body 
could imagine what he was going to do, he was out of . ^ 
the door and had closed it behind him. ^''^ 

" Quick! " said the king. " Fetch him back! " 
Of course it was the thing to do, and I was up and 
out in a moment. 
But dear me, there 
were no lamps in 
those days, and it 
was a dark night. 
But I glimpsed a dim fig- 
ure a few steps away. I 
darted for it, threw myself 
upon it, and then there was a state of 
things and lively! We fought and scuffled 
and struggled, and drew a crowd in no time. 
They took an immense interest in the fight and encouraged us all they 
could, and in fact couldn't have been pleasanter or more cordial if it 
had been their own fight. Then a tremendous row broke out behind 
us, and as much as half of our audience left us, with a rush, to invest 
some sympathy in that. Lanterns began to swing in all directions; it 
was the watch, gathering from far and near. Presently a halberd fell 
across my back, as a reminder, and I knew what it meant. I was in 
custody. So was my adversary. We were marched off toward 




THE NEWSBOY. 



47-^ 



AN ENCOUNTER IN THE DARK. 



prison, one on each side of the watchman, llcrc was disaster, here 
was a fine scheme gone to sudden destruction! I tried to imagine what 
would hap[)en when the master should discover that it was I who had 
been fighting him; and what would happen if they jailed us together 
in the general apartment for brawlers and petty law breakers, as w^as 
the custom; and what might — 

Just then my antagonist turned his face around in my direction, the 
freckled light from the watchman's tin lantern fell on it, and by George 
he was the wrong man! 




XST^-f W^^l^ blua^ i\ ■" ^) 




u* 




CHAPTER XXXVII. 

AN AWFUL PREDICAMENT. 

jLEEP? It was impossible. It would naturally 
have been impossible in that noisome cavern 
of a jail, with its mangy crowd of drunken, 
quarrelsome and song-singing rapscallions. But 
the thing that made sleep all the more a thing 
not to be dreamed of, was my racking impati- 
ence to get out of this place and find out the 
whole size of what might have 
happened yonder in the slave- 
quarters in consequence of that 
intolerable miscarriage of mine. 
It was a long night 
but the morning got 
around at last. I made 
a full and frank expla- 
nation to the court. I 
said I was a slave, the 
property of the great 
Earl Grip, who had 
^zc-^^jS**^^,^^ arrived just after 
y^ dark at the Tabard 
inn in the village on the other side of the water, 

and had stopped there over night, by compulsion, he 
being taken deadly sick with a strange and sudden 

475 



76 



AN AVVFUf. rKKOrCAMENT. 



disorder. I had been ordered to cross to the city in all haste and 
bring tiie best phj-sician; I was doing my best; naturally I was running 
with all my might; the night was dark, I ran against this common per- 
son here, who seized me i)\- the thr(Xit and began to pummel me, 
although I told him my errand, and implored him. for the sake of 
the great earl m\- masters mortal peril — 

The common person interrupted and said it was a lie; and was go- 
ing to explain how 1 rushed upon him and attacked him without a 
word — 

"Silence, sirrah!" from the court. "Take him hence and give 
him a few stripes whereby to teach him how to treat the servant of a 

nobleman after a dif- 
ferent fashion another 
time. Go!" 

Then the court 
begged my pardon, 
and hoped I would 
not fail to tell his lord- 

" IT LAY THERE ALL BATTERED TO PULP. 

ship it was in no wise 
the court's fault that this high-handed thing had happened. I said I 
would make it all right, and so took my leave. Took it just in time, 
too; he was starting to ask me why I did'nt fetch out these facts the 
moment I was arrested. I said I would if I had thought of it — which 
was true — but that I was so battered by that man that all my wit was 
knocked out of me — and so forth and so on, and got myself away, still 
mumbling. 

I didn't wait for breakfast. No grass grew under my feet. I was 
soon at the slave quarters. Empty — everybody gone! That is, every- 
body except one body — the slave-master's. It lay there all battered 
to pulp; and all about were the evidences of a terrific fight. There 
was a rude board coffin on a cart at the door, and workmen, assisted 




AN A WFUL PREDICAMENT. 



477 



by the police, were thinnin;^ a road tlirous^h the gaping crowd in order 
that they might bring it in. 

I picked out a man humble enough in life to condescend to talk 
with one so shabby as I, and got his account of the matter. 

" There were sixteen slaves here. They rose against their master 
in the night, and thou seest how it ended." 

" Yes. How did it begin.'' " 

" There was no witness but the slaves. They said the slave that 
v-as most valuable got free of his bonds and escaped in some strange 
way — by magic arts 'twas thought, by reason that he had no key, and 
the locks were neither broke nor in any wise injured. When the mas- 
ter discovered his loss, he was mad with despair, and threw himself 
upon his people with his heavy stick, who resisted and brake his back 
and in other and divers ways did give him hurts that brought him 
swiftly to his end." 

" This is dreadful. It will go hard with the slaves, no doubt, upon 
the trial." 

" Marry, the trial is over." 

" Over! " 

" Would they be a week, think you — and the matter so simple.-* 
They were not the half of a quarter of an hour at it." 

" Why, I don't see how they could determine which were the guilty 
ones in so short a time." 

" Which ones.' Indeed they considered not particulars like to that. 
They condemned them in a body. Wit ye not the law.' — which men 
say the Romans left behind them here when they went — that if one 
slave killeth his master all the slaves of that man must die for it." 

" True. I had forgotten. And when will these die.' " 

" Belike within a four and twenty hours; albeit some say they will 
wait a pair of days more, if peradventure they may find the missing one 
meantime." 



478 .1X.IU-/-C/. l'h'l-:iilC.\MKMT. 

The niissiiiL^ one! It iilkK- nic feci uncomfortable. 

" Is it likely they will fiiul him? " 

" Ik'fore the da>- is spent — \'es. They seek him everywhere. They 
stand at the j^ates of the town, with certain of the slaves who will dis- 
cover him to them if he comcth. and none can pass out but he will be 
first examined." 

" Might one see the place where the rest are confined.' " 

" The outside of it — }'es. The inside of it — but ye will not want to 
see that." 

I took the address of that prison, for future reference, and then saunt- 
ered off. At the first second-hand clothing shop I came to, up a back- 
street, I got a rough rig suitable for a common seaman who might be 
going on a cold voyage, and bound up m\' face with a liberal bandage, 
saying I had a toothache. This concealed my worst bruises. It w^as 
a transformation. I no longer resembled my former self. Then I 
struck out for that wire, found it and followed it to its den. It w^as a 
little room over a butcher's shop — which meant that business wasn't 
very brisk in the telegraphic line. The young chap in charge was 
drowsing at his table. I locked the door and put the vast key in my 
bosom. This alarmed the young fellow, and he was going to make a 
noise; but I said: 

"Save your wind; if you open your mouth you are dead, sure. 
Tackle your instrument. Lively, nowM Call Camelot." 

"This doth amaze me! How should such as you know aught of 
such matters as — " 

" Call Camelot! I am a desperate man. Call Camelot, or get away 
from the instrument and I will do it myself." 

" What — you .' " 

" Yes — certainly. Stop gabbling. Call the palace." He made the 
call. 

" Now then, call Clarence." 



AN A WFUL PREDICAMENT. 



479 



" Clarence luho'r 

"Nevermind Clarence who. Say you want Clarence; you'll get 
;in answer." 

He did so. We waited five nerve-straining minutes — ten minutes 
— how long it did seem! — and then came a click that was as familiar 
to me as a human voice; for Clarence had been my own pupil. 

" Now, my lad, vacate! They wouldn't have known my touch, may- 
be, and so your call was surest; but I'm all right, now." 

He vacated the place and cocked his ear to listen — but it didn't 
win. I used a cipher. I 
didn't waste any time in 
sociabilities with Clarence, 
but squared away for busi- 
ness, straight-off — thus: 

" The king is here and 
in danger. We were cap- 
tured and brought here as 
slaves. We should not be 
able to prove our identity 
— and the fact is, I am not 
in a position to try. Send 
a telegram for the palace here which will carry conviction with it." 

His answer carne straight back: 

*' They don't know anything about the telegraph; they haven't had 
any experience yet, the line to London is so new. Better not venture 
that. They might hang you. Think up something else." 

Might hang us! Little he knew how closely he was crowding the 
facts. I couldn't think up anything for the moment. Then an idea 
struck me, and I started it along: 

"Send five hundred picked knights with Launcelot in the leaa; 
and send them on the jump. Let them enter by the southwest 




STREETS OF LONDON. 



480 ^^ "•' yyfUI. PREDICAMENT. 

tjatc, and look out for the man with a white cloth around his 
rii^ht arm." 

The answer was prompt: 

" They shall start in half an hour.' 

"All ritjht, Clarence; now tell this lad here that I'm a friend of 
yours and a dead-head; and that he must be discreet and say nothing- 
about this visit of mine." 

The instrument began to talk to the youth and I hurried away. I 
fell to ciphering. In half an hour it would be nine o'clock. Knights 
and horses in heavy armor couldn't travel very fast. These would 
make the best time they could, and now that the ground was in good 
condition, and no snow or mud, they would probably make a seven- 
mile gait; they would have to change horses a couple of times; they 
would arrive about six, or a little after; it would still be plenty light 
enough; they w^ould see the white cloth which I should tie around my 
right arm, and I would take command. We would surround that prison 
and have the king out in no time. It would be showy and picturesque 
enough, all things considered, though I would have preferred noonday, 
on account of the more theatrical aspect the thing would have. 

Now then, in order to increase the strings to my bow, I thought I 
would look up some of those people whom I had formerly recognized, 
and make myself known. That would help us out of our scrape, with- 
out the knights. But I must proceed cautiously, for it v/as a risky 
business. I must get into sumptuous raiment, and it wouldn't do to 
run and jump into it. No, I must work up to it by degrees, buying 
suit after suit of clothes, in shops wide apart, and getting a little finer 
article with each change, until I should finally reach silk and velvet, 
and be ready for my project. So I started. 

But the scheme fell through like scat! The first corner I turned, I 
came plump upon one of our slaves, snooping around with a watchman. 
I coughed, at the moment, and he gave me a sudden look that bit right 



AN AWFUL PKED/CAMEJVT. 



481 



into my marrow. I judge he thought he had heard that cough before. 
I turned immediately into a shop and worked along down the counter, 
pricing things and watching out of the corner of ni)' e)'e. Those people 
had stopped, and were talking together and looking in at the door. I 
made up my mind to get out the back way, if there was a back way, 
and I asked the shopwoman if I could step out there and look for the 
escaped slave, who was believed to be in hiding back there somewhere. 




,.^,.--^^±^4:^ 



" HE GAVE ME A SUDDEN LOOK THAT BIT RIGHT INTO MY MARROW." 



i 



and said I was an officer in disguise, and my pard was yonder at the 

door with one of the murderers in charge, and would she be good 

enough to step there and tell him he needn't wait, but had better go 

at once to the further end of the back alley and be ready to head him 

off when I rousted him out. 
31 



^82 AN AWFUL PREDICAMENT. 

She was blazing with eagerness to see one of those already cele- 
brated murderers, and she started on the errand at once. I slipped 
out the back way, locked the door behind me, put the key in my 
pocket and started off, chuckling to inN'sclf and comfortable. 

Well, 1 had gone and spoiled it again, made another mistake. A 
double one, in fact. There were plenty of ways to get rid of that offi- 
cer by some simple and plausible device, but no, I must pick out a 
picturesque one; it is the crying defect of my character. And then, I 
had ordered my procedure upon what the officer, being human, would 
naturally do; whereas when you are least expecting it, a man will now 
and then go and do the very thing which it's not natural for him to do. 
The natural thing for the officer to do, in this case, was to follow 
straight on my heels; he would find a stout oaken door, securely lock- 
ed, between him and me; before he could break it down, I should be 
far away and engaged in slipping into a succession of baffling disguises 
which would soon get me into a sort of raiment which was a surer pro- 
tection from meddling law-dogs in Britain than any amount of mere 
innocence and purity of character. But instead of doing the natural 
thing, the officer took me at my word, and followed my instructions. 
And so, as I came trotting out of that cul de sac, full of satisfaction with 
my own cleverness, he turned the corner and I walked right into his 
handcuffs. If I had known it was a cul de sac — however, there isn't any 
excusing a blunder like that, let it go. Q-i^rgeit up__toDrofitand 
loss. 

Of course I was indignant, and swore I had just come ashore from 
a long voyage, and all that sort of thing — ^just to see, you know, if it 
would deceive that slave. But it didn't. He knew me. Then I re- 
proached him for betraj-ing me. He was more surprised than hurt. 
He stretched his eyes wide, and said: 

" What, wouldst have me let thee, of all men, escape and not hang 
with us, when thou'rt the verv cause of our hansriner.? Go to!" 



.4,V A WFUL PREDICAMENT. 483 

" Go to" was their way of sayini;- " I should smile!" or "I like 
th.it!" Queer talkers, those people. 

Well, there was a sort of bastard justice in his view of the case, and 
si> I dropped the matter. When you can't cure a disaster by arj^u- 
n.cnt, what is the use to argue.^ It isn't my way. So I only said: 

" You're not going to be hanged. None of us are." 

Both men laughed, and the slave said: 

"Ye have not ranked as a fool — before. You might better keep 
your reputation, seeing the strain would not be for long." 

" It will stand it, I reckon. Before to-morrow we shall be out of 
prison, and free to go where we will, besides." 

The witty officer lifted at his left ear with his thumb, made a rasp- 
ing noise in his throat, and said: 

" Out of prison — yes — ye say true. And free likewise to go where 
ye will, so ye wander not out of his grace the Devil's sultry realm." 

I kept my temper, and said, indifferently: 

" Now I suppose you really think we are going to hang within a 
day or two." 

" I thought it not many minutes ago, for so the thing was decided 
and proclaimed." 

" Ah, then you've changed your mind, is that it.-*" 

" Even that. I only thought, then; I knozv, now." 

I felt sarcastical, so I said: 

" Oh, sapient servant of the law, condescend to tell us, then, what 
you knozv.^^ 

"That ye will all be hanged to-day, at mid-afternoon! Oho! that 
shot hit home! Lean upon me." 

The fact is I did need to lean upon somebody. My knights 
couldn't arrive in time. They would be as much as three hours too 
late. Nothing in the world could save the King of England; nor me, 
which was more important. More important, not merely to me, but to 



484 ^^^ -' ff'^l-^^- PREDICAMENT. 

the nation — tlic only nation on earth standing ready to blossom into 
civilization. I was sick. I said no more, there wasn't anything to say. 
I knew what the man meant; that if the missing slave was found, the 
postponement would be revoked, tlic execution take place to-day. 
Well, the missing slave was found. 



a 



'C 




' ,\>^-^^"^c.elo\: 




15 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 




SIR LAUNCELOT AND KNIGHTS TO THE RESCUE. 

EARING four in the afternoon. The scene was just out- 
side the walls of London. A cool, comfortable, superb 
day, with a brilliant sun; the kind of day to make one 
want to live, not die. The multitude was prodigious 
and far reaching; and yet we fifteen poor devils hadn't a 
friend in it. There was something painful in that thought, 
look at it how you might. There we sat, on our tall scaf- 
fold, the butt of the hate and mock- 
ery of all those enemies. We were 
;ing made a holiday spectacle. 
They had built a sort of 
srrand stand for the nobil- 
d gentry, and these 
were there in full 
force, with 
their ladies. 
We recog- 
n i z e d a 
good many 
of them. 

The crowd 
got a brief 
and unex- 
pected dash 

SIR GALAHAD TAKES A HEADER. Of diverSlOIl 

487 




4.88 •!>VVP LAUNCELOr AND KNIGHTS TO THE RESCUE. 

out of the king. The moment we were freed of our bonds he sprani^ 
up, in his fantastic rai^s, with face bruised out of all recognition, and 
proclaimed himself Arthur, King of Britain, and denounced the awful 
penalties of treason upon every soul there present if hair of his sacred 
head were touched. It startled and surprised him to hear them break 
into a vast roar of laughter. It wounded his dignity, and he locked 
himself up in silence, then, although the crowd begged him to go on, 
and tried to provoke him to it by cat-calls, jeers, and shouts of 

"Let him speak! The king! The king! his humble subjects hun- 
ger and thirst for words of wisdom out of the mouth of their master his 
Serene and Sacred Raggedness! " 

But it went for nothing. He put on all his majesty and sat under 
this rain of contempt and insult unmoved. He certainly was great in 
his way. Absently, I had taken off my white bandage and wound it 
about my right arm. When the crowd noticed this, they began upon 
me. They said: 

" Doubtless this sailor-man is his minister — observe his costly badge 
of office!" 

I let them go on until they got tired, and then I said: 

"Yes, I am his minister, The Boss; and to-morrow you will hear 
that from Camelot which — "' 

I got no further. They drowned me out with joyous derision. But 
presently there was silence; for the sheriffs of London, in their official 
robes, with their subordinates, began to make a stir which indicated 
that business was about to begin. In the hush which followed, our 
crime was recited, the death warrant read, then everybody uncovered 
while a priest uttered a prayer. 

Then a slave was blindfolded, the hangman unslung his rope. 
There lay the smooth road below us, we upon one side of it, the banked 
multitude walling its other side — a good clear road, and kept free by 
the police — how good it would be to see my five hundred horsemen 

I 



K> 




KNIGHTS PRACTICING ON THE QUIET. 
489 



490 



S/S^ T.AUNCRLOT Ah'D KNIGHTS TO THE RESCUE. 



come tcarin;^ down it! Hut, no, it was out ofthcpossi-| 

bilitics. I followed its receding thread ^^M out into the 
distance — not a horseman on it, or sign 

There was a jerk, and the slave 
hung dangling; dangling and hid- 
eously squirming, 
limbs were not tied. 

A second rope 
was unslung, in a moment 
another slave was dangling. 

In a minute a third slave 
was struggling in the air. It 
was dreadful. I turned away 
my head a moment, and when 
I turned back I missed the 
king! They were blindfold- 
ing him! I was paralyzed; I 
couldn't move, I was chok- 
ing, my tongue was petrified. 
They finished blind- 
folding him, they led 
him under the rope. I 

couldn't shake off that __ 

clinging impotence. But "who fails shall sup in hell to-night." 

when I saw them put the noose around his neck, then everything let 
go in me and I made a spring to the rescue — and as I made it I shot 
one more glance abroad — by George, here they came, a-tilting! — five 
hundred mailed and belted knights on bicycles! 

The grandest sight that ever was seen. Lord, how the plumes 
.streamed, how the sun flamed and flashed from the endless procession 
of webby wheels! 




SIR LAUNCELOT AND KNIGHTS TO THE RESCUE. 49 I 

I waved my riijht arm as Launcclot swept in — he recognized my 
rag — I tore away noose and bandage, and shouted: 

"On your knees, every rascal of you, and salute the king! Who 
fails shall sup in hell to-night! " 

I always use that high style when I'm climaxing an effect. Well,! 
it was noble to see Launcelot and the bo}'s swarm up onto that scaffold 
and heave sheriffs and such overboard. And it was fine to see that 
astonished multitude go down on their knees and beg their lives of the 
king they had just been deriding and insulting. And as he stood 
apart, there, receiving this homage in his rags, I thought to myself, 
well really there is something peculiarly grand about the gait and 
bearing of a king, after all. 

I was immensely satisfied. Take the whole situation all around, it 
was one of the gaudiest effects I ever instigated. 

And presentl}' up comes Clarence, his own self ! and winks, and 
says, very modernly: 

" Good deal of a surprise, wasn't it.'' I knew you'd like it. I've had 
the boys practicing, this long time, privately; and just hungry for a 
chance to show off." 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

^^^)7 THE YANKEE'S FIGHT WITH THE KNIGHTS. 

pN, I OME again, at Camelot. A morning or two later I 
1^ found the paper, damp from the press, by my plate 
yLY at the breakfast table. I turned to the advertising 
columns, knowing I should find something of per- 
sonal interest to me there. It was this: 





DE FAR LE ROI. 

3ino\v that the great lord and illus- 
trious kniSht, SIR SAGRAMOUR LE 
DESI^OnS having condescended to 
me^t the King's Minister, Hank_Mor- 
ga n, the which i s surna med Th eJBoss, 
for satisfgction of offence anciently given, 
these will, engage m the lists 
by Camelot about the fourth 
hour of the morning of the 
sixteenth day of this next suc- 
"< ceeding month. The battle 
wiil b^ a routrance, sith the 
said offence was of a deadly 
"" sort, admitting of no com- 
position. 

DE PAR LE -{jOI. 



496 



THE YAXh'EE'S FIGHT WITH THE KNIGHTS. 



Clarence's ed 

ilulrcw. 

woik maintained 

'here since, soon 

'istic have witq 

oked interest 

upon the cAcn- 

/e been moved 

jy the af '^Is, 

ent out chi'^/ by 

yterian BofM., and 

Z some ycM g men 

of our ^der the 

i guidance of tha 

for aid in ajknown 

he great enterprise 

of making pure; 

esenr 

"uovement had its 

origin in preven- 

has ever been a 

sions in our 

on of jfis- 

other one 

ospel, 

b>- 

e 

The 

.ha same 

00 represent 

ized thirty of 

aeeds and hear- 

which,"vears ago! 

^^oresgn was osgan- 

ing, the missions, 

sso that both had 

o withdraw' and 

'Much to their 

<5Tief, 



itorial reference to this affair was to 
It will be observed, by a glynce at our 
advertising columns, that the commu- 
nity is to be favored Avith a treat of un- 
usual interest in the tournament line. 
The names of the artists are warrant of 
good enterrainment. The box-ofl5ce 
win be open at noon of the 13th; ad- 
mission 3 cents, reserve^/ seats 5; pro- 
ceeds to go to the hospital fund, j^he 
royal pair and all the Court wiil be pres- 
ent. Vv''ith these exceptions, and the 
press and the clergy, the free list is strict- 
ly sus* ended. Parties are hereby warn- 
ed against buying tickets nf speculators; 
they will not be good at the door. 
Everybody knows and likes The Boss, 
everybody knows and likes Sir Sag.; 
com^ let us give the lads a good send- 
off. ReMember, the proceeds go to a 
great and free charity, and '^ne whose 
broad begevolence stretches out its help- 
ing hand, v/arm v/ith the blood of a lov- 
ing heart, to all that sujger, regardless of 
race, creed, condition or color — die 
only charit}' yet established in the earth 
which has no politico-religious stop- 
cock on its compassion, but says Here 
flows the stream, let all come and 
drink! x,um out, all hands! fetch along 
your dou3hnuts and your gum-drops 
and have a good time. Pie for sale on 
the groun^/s, and rocks to crack it with; 
also ciRcus-lemonade — three drops of 
lime juice to a barrel of water. 

N. 3. This is the first tournavicnf 
uiider the neiv laio, luhidh allows each 
combatant to use any weapon he may pre- 
fer, Ynti want to make a noie of 'dbiji 



this effect: 

our disappointn.- 
(jromptly and no. 
two of their felo 
erlain, and ©the 
ers havejalieadv 
spoken, you h 
fumisned for 
their use, ivi 
make anc* 
the jjind 
letters 
o] introa 
duction whi 
they are unm 
ing friends to us 
ried, and leave the 
thotfkind words Bnc 
which you, my joy- 
hind ; and it is a 
home matter of b 
it is our durp 
direct them tc 
now under the e 
g fielfU as are 
These^vounS men 
are warm-hearted 
azirl, regions be:( 
not to " build u 
ond,\ and the 
der instructi 
ons of our 
another man 
founhati's on,/ 
ociety, which 
They go un- 
say tqat •' inr 
ionaries to mon 
say sanding miss 



THE YANKEE'S FIGHJ' WITH THE KNIGHTS. 497 

Up to the day set, there was no talk in all Britain of anyth' ig but 
this combat. All other topics sank into insignificance and passed out 
of men's thoughts and interest. It was not because a tournament was 
a great matter; it was not because Sir Sagramour had found the Holy 
Grail, for he had not, but had failed; it was not because the second 
(official) personage in the kingdom was one of the duellists; no, all 
these features were commonplace. Yet there was abundant reason 
for the extraordinary interest which this coming fight was creating. 
It was born of the fact that all the nation knew that this was not to be 
a duel between mere men, so to speak, but a duel between two mighty 
magicians; a duel not of muscle but of mind, not of human skill but of 
superhuman art and craft; a final struggle for supremacy between the 
two master enchanters of the age. It was realized that the most 
prodigious achievements of the most renowned knights could not be 
worthy of comparison with a spectacle like this; they could be but 
child's play, contrasted with this mysterious and awful battle of the 
gods. Yes, all the world knew it was going to be in reality a duel 
between Merlin and me, a measuring of his magic powers against mine. 
It was known that Merlin had been busy whole days and nights to- 
gether, imbuing Sir Sagramour's arms and armor with supernal pow- 
ers of offence and defence, and that he had procured for him from the 
spirits of the air a fleecy veil which would render the wearer invisible 
to his antagonist while still visible to other men. Against Sir Sagra- 
mour, so weaponed and protected, a thousand knights could accom- 
plish nothing; against him no known enchantments could prevail. 
These facts were sure; regarding them there was no doubt, no reason 
for doubt. There was but one question: might there be still other en- 
chantments, unknozvn to Merlin, which could render Sir Sagramour's 
veil transparent to me, and make his enchanted mail vulnerable to my 
weapons.'* This was the one thing to be decided in the lists. Until 
then the world must remain in suspense. 



49S THE YANKEES FIGHT WITH THE KNIGHTS. 

So tfie world thouii^ht there was a vast matter at stake here, and 
the world was right, but it was not the one they had in their minds. 
No, a far vaster one was upon the cast of this die: ///r /i/c of knigJit- 
frrantry. J_was a champion, it was true, b ut not t he char npion of the 
ftj^aal ^us black arts7 T~wasthe champio n of li arj._janseJidmentaX-caiii- 
mon-sense and reason. I was entering the lists to either destroy 



knij^htz£nantr y or be its v ictim . 

Vast as the show-grounds were, there were no vacant spaces in 
them outside of the lists, at ten o'clock on the morning of the i6th. 
The mammoth grand stand was clothed in flags, streamers, and rich 
tapestries, and packed with several acres of small-fry tributary kings, 
their suites, and the British aristocracy; with our own royal gang in 
the chief place, and each and every individual a flashing prism of gaudy 
silks and velvets — well, I never saw anything to begin with it but a 
fight between an Upper Mississippi sunset and the aurora borealis. 
The huge camp of beflagged and gay-colored tents at one end of the 
lists, with a stiff-standing sentinel at every door and a shining shield 
hanging by him for challenge, was another fine sight. You see, every 
knight was there who had any ambition or any caste feeling; for my 
feeling toward their order was not much of a secret, and so here was 
their chance. If I won my fight with Sir Sagramour, others would 
have the right to call me out as long as I might be willing to respond. 

Down at our end there were but two tents; one for me, and another 
for my servants. At the appointed hour the king made a sign, and the 
heralds, in their tabards, appeared and made proclamation, naming 
the combatants and stating the cause of quarrel. There was a pause, 
then a ringing bugle blast, which was the signal for us to come forth. 
All the multitude caught their breath, and an eager curiosity flashed 
into every face. 

Out from his tent rode great Sir Sagramour, an imposing tower of 
iron, stately and rigid, his huge spear standing upright in its socket 



THE VAXA'EE'S FIGHT WITH THE KXIGHTS. 



499 



and grasped in his stroni^ hand, his grand horse's face and breast 
cased in steel, his body clothed in rich trappings that almost dragged 
the ground — oh, a most noble picture. A great shout went up, of 
welcome and admiration. 

And then out I came. But I didn't get any shout. There was a 
wondering and eloquent silence, for a moment, then a great wave of 
laughter began to sweep along that human sea, but a warning bugle- 
blast cut its career short. I was in the simplest ^. 
and comfortablest of gymnast costumes — fiesh- ' 
colored tights from neck to heel, with ^— ■i:::;^;) ', ''f^'?1>i;^* 



blue silk puffings about my 





loins, and bare- 
headed. My horse 
\vas not above 
medium size, but 
he was alert, slen- 
der-limbed, muscled "^° '^'^^^ J™ = ' 
with watch-springs, and just a greyhound to go. He was a beauty, 
glossy as silk, and naked as he was when he was born, except for 
bridle and ranger-saddle. 

The iron tower and the gorgeous bed-quilt came cumbrously 
but gracefully pirouetting down the lists, and we tripped lightly 
up to meet them. We halted; the tower saluted, I responded; 
then we wheeled and rode side by side \o the grand stand and 



500 THE YAXKEE'S EIGHT WI'IH THE KNIGHTS. f 

faced our kin<^ and iiuccn. to whom \vc made obeisance. The queen 
exclaimed: 

"Alack, Sir Boss, wilt fight naked, and without lance or sword or — " 

But the king checked her and made her understand, with a polite 
phrase or two, that this was none of her business. The bugles rang 
again; and we separated and rode to the ends of the lists, and took 
position. Now old Merlin stepped into view and cast a dainty web of 
gossamer threads over Sir Sagramour which turned him into Hamlet's 
ghost; the king made a sign, the bugles blew. Sir Sagramour laid his 
great lance in rest, and the next moment here he came thundering 1 
down the course with his veil flying out behind, and I went whistling 
through the air like an arrow to meet him — cocking my ear, the while, 
as if noting the invisible knight's position and progress by hearing, not 
sight. A chorus of encouraging shouts burst out for him, and one 
brave voice flung out a heartening word for me — said: 

"Go it, slim Jim! " 

It was an even bet that Clarence had procured that favor for me — 
and furnished the language, too. When that formidable lance-point 
was within a yard and a half of my breast I twitched my horse aside 
without an effort and the big knight swept by, scoring a blank. I got 
plenty of applause that time. We turned, braced up, and down we 
came again. Another blank for the knight, a roar of applause for 
me. This same thing was repeated once more; and it fetched such a 
whirlwind of applause that Sir Sagramour lost his temper, and at once 
changed his tactics and set himself the task of chasing me down. I| 
Why, he hadn't any show in the world at that; it was a game of tag. 1 
with all the advantage on my side; I whirled out of his path with ease ji 
whenever I chose, and once I slapped him on the back as I went to i 
the rear. Finally I took the chase into my own hands; and after that. *! 
turn, or twist, or do what he would, he was never able to get behind |j 
me again; he found himself always in front, at the end of his maneuvre. ii 



502 /■///•; r./.\'A'/;/-".s- fich i- ivith the knights. 

So he ^avc up tliat business iuul retired to his end of the lists. His 
temper was clear gone, now, and he forgot himself and flung an insult 
at me which disposed of mine. I slipped my lasso from the horn of 
my saddle, and grasped the coil in my right hand. This time you 
should have seen him come! — it was a business trip, sure; by his_gait 



therc \vas blood in his eye . I was sitting my horse at ease, and swing- 
ing the great loop of my lasso in wide circles about my head; the 
moment he was under way, I started for him; when the space between 
us had narrowed to forty feet, I sent the snaky spirals of the rope 
a-cleaving through the air, then darted aside and faced about and 
brought my trained animal to a halt with all his feet braced under 
him for a surge. The next moment the rope sprang taut and yanked 
Sir Sagramour out of the saddle! Great Scott, but there was a sensa- 
tion! 

Unquestionably the popular thing in this world is novelty. These 
people nacT never^'sre^TTanything of that cow-boy businessTjefore, and 
it carried them clear off their feet with delight. From all around and 
everywhere, the shout went up — 

" Encore! encore!" 

I wondered where they got the word, but there was no time to 
cipher on philological matters, because the whole knight-errantry hive 
was just humming, now, and my prospect for trade couldn't have been 
better. The moment my lasso was released and Sir Sagramour had 
been assisted to his tent, I hauled in the slack, took my station and 
began to swing my loop around my head again. I was sure to have 
use for it as soon as they could elect a successor for Sir Sagramour, 
and that couldn't take long where there were so many hungry candi- 
dates. Indeed, they elected one straight off — Sir Hervis de Revel. 

B:;z! Here he came, like a house afire; I dodged; he passed like 
a flash, with my horse-hair coils settling around his neck; a second or 
30 later, /^// his saddle was empty. 



THE YANKEES FIGHT WITH THE KNIGHTS. 



503 



I got another encore; and another, and another, and still another. 
When I had snaked five men out, things began to look serious to the 
iron-clads, and they stopped and consulted together. As a result, they 
decided that it was time to waive etiquette and send their greatest and 
best against me. To the astonishment of that little world, I lassoed 
Sir Lamorak de Galis, and after him Sir Galahad. So you see there 
was simply nothing to be done, now, but play their right bower — bring 
out the superbest of the superb, the mightiest of the mighty, the great 
Sir Launcelot himself! 

A proud moment for me .-' I should think so. Yonder was Arthur, 
King of Britain; yonder was Guenever ; yes, and whole tribes of little 
provincial kings and kinglets; and in the tented camp yonder, re- 
nowned knights from many lands; and likewise the selectest body 
known to chivalry, the Knights of the Table Round, the most illus- 
trious in Christendom; and biggest fact of all, the very sun of their 
shining system was yonder couching his lance, the focal point of forty 
thousand adoring eyes; and all by myself, here was I laying for him. 
Across my mind flitted the dear image of a certain hello-girl of West 
Hartford, and I wished she could see me now. In that moment, down 
came the Invincible, with the rush of a whirlwind — the courtly world 
rose to its feet and bent forward — the fateful coils went circling through 
the air, and before you could wink I was towing Sir Launcelot across 
the field on his back, and kissing my hand to the storm of waving ker- 
chiefs and the thunder-crash of applause that greeted me! 

Said I to myself, as I coiled my lariat and hung it on my saddle- 
horn, and sat there drunk with glory, " The victory is perfect — no 
other will venture against me — knight-errantry is dead." Now imagine 
my astonishment — and everybody else's too — to hear the peculiar 
bugle-call which announces that another competitor is about to enter 
the lists! There was a mystery here; I couldn't account for this thing. 
Next, I noticed Merlin gliding awoy from me; and then I noticed that 



504 



THE y.l.VA'EES FIGHT WITH THE KNIGHTS. 



my lasso was gone! The old sleight-of-hand expert had stolen it, 
sure, and slipped it under his robe. 

The bugle blew again. I looked, and down came Sagramour riding 
again, with his dust brushed off and his veil nicely re-arranged. I trot- 
ted up to meet him, and pretended to find him by the sound of his 
horse's hoofs. He said: 

" Thou'rt quick of ear, but it will not save thee from this!" and he 
touched the hilt of his great sword. "An ye are not able to see it, 
because of the influence of the veil, know that it is no cumbrous lance, 

but a sword — and I 
ween ye will not be 
able to avoid it." 

His visor was up; 
there was death in his 
smile. I should never 
be able to dodge his 
sword, that was plain. 
Somebody was going 
to die, this time. If 
he got the drop on 
me, I could name the 
corpse. We rode for- 
This time the king was dis- 




BRER MERLIN' STEALS THE LARIAT. 



ward together, and saluted the royalties 
turbed. He said: 

" Where is thy strange weapon?" 

" It is stolen, sire." 

" Hast another at hand.'" 

" No, sire, I brought only the one." 

Then Merlin mixed in: 

" He brought but the one because there was but the one to bring. 
There exists none other but that on^. It belongeth to the king of the 



THE YAXK'EES FIGHT WITH 7 HE KXIGHTS. 5O5 

Demons of the Sea. Tliis iiKin is a pretender, and is^norant; else he 
had known that that weapon can be used in but eight bouts only, and 
then it vanisheth away to its home under the sea." 

" Then is he weaponless," said the king. " Sir Sagramour, ye will 
grant him leave to borrow." 

"And I will lend!" said Sir Launcelot, limping up. "He is as 
brave a knight of his hands as any that be on live, and he shall have 
mine." 

He put his hand on his sword to draw it, but Sir Sagramour said: 

" Stay, it may not be. He shall fight with his own weapons; it was 
his privilege to choose them and bring them. If he has erred, on his 
head be it." 

" Knight!" said the king. " Thou'rt overwrought with passion; it 
disorders thy mind. Wouldst kill a naked man.'" 

" An he do it, he shall answer it to me," said Sir Launcelot. 

" I will answer it to any he that desireth !" retorted Sir Sagramour 
hotly. 

Merlin broke in, rubbing his hands and smiling his lowdownest 
smile of malicious gratification: 

" 'Tis well said, right well said! And 'tis enough of parleying, let 
my lord the king deliver the battle signal." 

The king had to yield. The bugle made proclamation, and we 
turned apart and rode to our stations. There we stood, a hundred 
yards apart, facing each other, rigid and motionless, like horsed 
statues. And so we remained, in a soundless hush, as much as a full 
minute, everybody gazing, nobody stirring. It seemed as if the king 
could not take heart to give the signal. But at last he lifted his hand, 
the clear note of the bugle followed. Sir Sagramour's long blade de- 
scribed a flashing curve in the air, and it was superb to see him come. 
I sat still. On he came. I did not move. People got so excited that 
they shouted to me: 



505 J'IfE YANKEES FIGHT WITH THE KNIGHTS. 

" Fly, fly! Save thyself! This is murthcr!" 

I never budged so mvich as an inch, till that thundering- appar. 
had got within fifteen paces of me; then I snatched a dragoon revol 
out of my holster, there was a flash and a roar, and the revolver w 
back in the holster before anybody could tell what had happened. 

Here was a riderless horse plunging by, and yonder lay Sir Sagra 
mour, stone dead. 

The people that ran to him were stricken dumb to find that the life 
was actually gone out of the man and no reason for it visible, no hurt 
upon his body, nothing like a wound. There was a hole through the 
breast of his chain-mail, but they attached no importance to a little 
thing like that; and as a bullet-wound there produces but little blood, 
none came in sight because of the clothing and swaddlings under the 
armor. The body was dragged over to let the king and the swells 
look down upon it. They were stupefied with astonishment, naturally. 
I was requested to come and explain the miracle. But I remained in 
my tracks, like a statue, and said: 

" If it is a command, I will come, but m}- lord the king knows that 
I am where the laws of combat require me to remain while any desire 
to come against me." 

I waited. Nobody challenged. Then I said: 

" If there are any who doubt that this field is well and fairly won, 
I do not wait for them to challenge me, I challenge them." 

"It is a gallant offer," said the king, "and well beseems you. 
Whom will you name, first.'" 

/ "I name none, I challenge all! Here I stand, and dare the chiv- 
alry of England to come against me — not by individuals, but in mass!" 

"What!" shouted a score of knights. 

"You have heard the challenge. Take it, or I proclaim you rec- 
reant knights and vanquished, every one!" 

It was a "bluff" you know. At such a time it is sound judgment 



THE YAXKEKS FIGHT WITH THE KXIGHTS. 



507 



to put on a bokl face aiul pla}- \-our hand for a hundred times "Ahat it 
is wortli; fort\'-nine times out of fifty nobod)' dares to "call," and )-ou 
rake in the chips. But just this once — well, thini^s looked sexually! 
In just no time, five hundred knights were scrambling into their sad- 
dles, and before you could wink a widely scattering drove were under 
way and clattering down upon me. I snatched both revohcrs from 
the holsters and began to measure distances and calculate chances. 

Bang! One saddle empty. Bang! another one. Bang — bang! 
and I bagged two Well it was nip and tuck with ^^ 

us, and I knew it If I spent the 
eleventh shot without con- 
vincing these people, ^'-^^ 
the twelfth man ^r\l^'^€*^'^ fy'^VXi^^ " 



l^^f ^^ i 



^, 



v 



kill me, 



sure. l^^^S^^ S W r5^ ^ ^^J 




,^^ 



And so I 



never did feel so 



happy as I did when my 
-t^K' ninth downed its man and I 

CHARGE OF THE 50O KNIGHTS. 1 . . 1 . 1 • • i.1 

detected the wavernig m the 
crowd which is premonitory of panic. An instant lost now, could 
knock out my last chance. But I didn't lose it. I raised both revol- 
vers and pointed them — the halted host stood their ground just about 
one good square moment, then broke and fled. 

The day was mine. Knight-errantry was a doomed institution. 
The march of civilization was begun. How did I feel.' Ah )'ou never 
could imagine it. 

And Brer Merlin.' His stock was flat again. Somehow, every 
time the magic of fol-de-rol tried conclusions with the magic of science, 
the magic of fol-de-rol got left. 




12fil^\r> (^\ 



•ar<x' 




15* 




't be 

jler 

CHAPTER XL. 

THREE YEARS LATER. 

HEN I broke the back of knig;ht- 
errantry that time, I no lon^^er felt 
obliged to work in secret. So, the very 
next day I exposed my hidden schools, 
my mines, and my vast system of clandes- 
tine factories and work-shops to an 
astonished world. That is to say, I 
>^ exposed the nineteenth century to 
the inspection of the sixth. 

Well it is always a good plan 
to follow up an advantage 
promptly. The knights 
were temporarily down, but 
if I would keep them 
so I must just 
alyze them — 
nothing short of that ^\^ would an- 
swer. You see, I was "bluffing" that 
last time, in the field; it would be nat- 
ural for them to work around to that 
conclusion, if I gave them a chance. 
So I must not give them time : 
and I didn't. 
I renewed my challenge, 
engraved it on 
brass, posted it 




512 



TlfRKE YEARS LATER. 



up where any pri*. could read it to them, and also kept it standing, 
in the advertising coiumns of the paper. 

1 not only renewed it, but added to its proportions. I said, name 
the day, and 1 would take fifty assistants and stand up against the 
7)iassed cliivahy of the zvho/e earth and destroy it. 

I was not bluffing this time. I meant what I said; I could do what 
I promised. There wasn't any way to misunderstand the language of 
that challenge. Even the dullest of the chivalry perceived that this 
was a plain case of " put up, or shut up." They were wise and did the 













THREE YEARS L.\TER. 



latter. In all the next three years they gave me no trouble worth 
mentioning. 

Consider the three years sped. Now look around on England. A 
happy and prosperous country, and strangely altered. Schools every- 
where, and several colleges; a number of pretty good newspapers. 
Even authorship was taking a start; Sir Dinadan the Humorist was 
first in the field, with a volume of gray-headed jokes which I had been 
familiar with during thirteen centuries. If he had left out that old ran- 
cid one about the lecturer I wouldn't have said anything; but I could- 
n't stand that one. I suppressed the book and hanged the author. 



THREE YEARS LATER. 513 

Slavery was dead and gone; all men were equal before the law; tax- 
ation had been equalized. The telegraph, the telephone, the phono- 
graph, the type-writer, the sewing machine, and all the thousand will- 
ing and handy servants of steam and electricity were working their 
way into favor. We had a steamboat or two on the Thames, we had 
steam war-ships, and the beginnings of a steam commercial marine; I 
was getting ready to send out an expedition to discover America. 

We were building several lines of railway, and our line from Camelot 
to London was already finished and in operation. I was shrewd enough 
to make all offices connected with the passenger service places of 
high and distinguished honor. My idea was to attract the chivalry and 
nobility, and make them useful and keep them out of mischief. The 
plan worked very Avell, the competition for the places was hot. The 
conductor of the 4.33 express was a duke, there wasn't a passenger 
conductor on the line below the degree of earl. They were good men, 
every one, but they had two defects which I couldn't cure, and so had 
to wink at: they wouldn't lay aside their armor, and they would 
"knock down" fares — I mean rob the company. — 

There was hardly a knight in all the land who wasn't in some use- 
ful employment. They were going from end to end of the country in 
all manner of useful missionary capacities; their penchant for wander- 
ing, and their experience in it, made them altogether the most effect- 
ive spreaders of civilization we had. They went clothed in steel and 
equipped with sword and lance and battle axe, and if they couldn't 
persuade a person to try a sewing machine on the instalment plan, or 
a melodeon, or a barbed wire fence, or a prohibition journal, or any of 
the other thousand and one things they canvassed for, they removed 
him and passed on. 

I wasvery happy. Things were working steadily toward a secretly 
longed-for point. You see, I had two schemes in my head which were 
the vastest of all my projects. The one was, to overthrow the Cath- 



514 



THREE YEANS r.ATER. 



olic Church and set up the Protestant faith on its ruins — not as an 
ICstablishcd Churcli. I)ut a i;o-as-you-plcase one; and the other pro- 
iect was, to t^et a decree issued by and by, commanding that upon 
Arthur's death unUmited suffrage should be introduced, and given to 
men and women aHke — at any rate to all men, wise or unwise, and 
to all mothers who at middle age should be found to know nearly as 
much as their sons at twenty-one. Arthur was good for thirty years 
yet, he being about my own age — that is to say, forty — and I believed 
that in that time I could easily have the active part of the population 
of that day ready and eager for an event which should be the first of 
its kind in the history of the world — a rounded and complete govern- 
mental revolution without bloodshed. The result to be a republic. 
Well, I may as well confess, though I do feel ashamed when I think 
of it: 1 was beginning to have a base hankering to be its first presi- 
dent myself Yes, there was more or less human nature in me; I 
found that out. 

Clarence was with me as concerned the revolution, but in a modi- 
fied way. His idea was a republic, without privileged orders but with 
a hereditary royal family at the head of it instead of an elective chief 
magistrate. He believed that no nation that had ever known the joy 
of worshiping a royal family could ever be robbed of it and not fade 
away and die of melancholy. I urged that kings were dangerous. He 
said, then have cats. He was sure that a royal family of cats would 
answer every purpose. They would be as useful as any other royal 
family, they would know as much, they would have the same virtues 
and the same treacheries, the same disposition to get up shindies with 
other royal cats, they would be laughably vain and absurd and never 
know it. they would be wholly inexpensive; finally, they would have 
as sound a divine right as any other royal house, and " Tom VH, or 
Tom XI, or Tom XIV by the grace of God King," would sound as well 
as it would when applied to the ordinary royal tomcat with tights on. 



THREE YEARS LA TER. 5 I 5 

" And as a rule," said he, in his neat modern English, " the character 
of these cats would be considerably above the character of the average 
king, and this would be an immense moral advantage to the nation, 
for the reason that a nation always models its morals after its mon- 
arch's. The worship of royalty being founded in unreason, these grace- ' 
ful and harmless cats would easily become as sacred as any other roy- 
alties, and indeed more so, because it would presently be noticed that! 
they hanged nobody, beheaded nobody, imprisoned nobody, inflicted 
no cruelties or injustices of any sort, and so must be worthy of a deeper 
love and reverence than the customary human king, and would cer- 
tainly get it. The eyes of the whole harried world would soon be fixed 
upon this humane and gentle system, and royal butchers would pres- 
ently begin to disappear; their subjects would fill the vacancies with 
catlings from our own royal house; we should become a factory; we 
should supply the thrones of the world; within forty years all Europe 
would be governed by cats, and we should furnish the cats. The reign 

of universal peace would begin then, to end no more forever 

Me-e-e-yow-ow-otv-ow — fzt!—ivo%vP' 

Hang him, I supposed he was in earnest, and was beginning to be 
persuaded by him, until he exploded that cat-howl and startled me 
almost out of my clothes. But he never could be in earnest. He didn't 
know what it was. He had pictured a distinct and perfectly rational 
and feasible improvement upon constitutional monarchy, but he was 
too feather-headed to know it, or care anything about it, either. I was 
going to give him a scolding, but Sandy came flying in at that moment, 
wild with terror, and so choked with sobs that for a minute she could 
not get her voice. I ran and took her in my arms, and lavished caresses 
upon her and said, beseechingly: 

" Speak, darling, speak! What is it.^" 

Her head fell hmp upon my bosom, and she gasped, almost inau- 
dibly: 



5'<5 



THREE YEARS LA TER. 



" Hello, Central!" 

" Quick!" I shouted to Clarence; " telephone the king's homeopath 
to come!" 

In two minutes I was kneeling by the child's crib, and Sandy was 
dispatching servants here, there and everywhere, all over the palace. 
I took in the situation almost at a glance — membraneous croup! I bent 
down and whispered: 

" Wake up, sweetheart! Hello-Central !" 

She opened her soft eyes languidly, and made out to say — 

"Papa." 

That was a comfort. She was far from dead, yet. I sent for prep- 
arations of sulphur, I rousted out the croup-kettle myself; for I don't 
sit down and wait Tor doctors when Sandy or the child is sick. I knew 
how to nurse both of them, and had had experience. This little chap 
had lived in my arms a good part of its small life, and often I could 
soothe away its troubles and get it to laugh through the tear-dews on 
its eye-lashes when even its mother couldn't. 

Sir Launcelot, in his richest armor, came striding along the great 
hall, now, on his way to the stock-board; he was president of the stock- 
board, and occupied the Siege Perilous, which he had bought of Sir 
Galahad; for the stock-board consisted of the Knights of the Round 
Table, and they used the Round Table for business purposes, now. 
Seats at it were worth — well, you would never believe the figure, so it 
is no use to state it. Sir Launcelot was a bear, and he had put up a 
corner in one of the new lines, and was just getting ready to squeeze 
the shorts to-day; but what of that.'' He was the same old Launcelot, 
and when he glanced in as he was passing the door and found out that 
his pet was sick, that was enough for him; bulls and bears might fight 
it out their own way for all him, he would come right in here and stand 
by little Hello-Central for all he was worth. And that was what he 
did. He shied his helmet into the corner, and in half a minute he had 



THREE YEARS LATER. 



517 



a new wick in the alcohol lamp and was firing up on the croup-kettle. 
By this time Sandy had built a blanket canop)- over the crib, and every- 
thing was ready. 

Sir Launcelot got up steam, he and I loaded up the kettle with un- 
slaked lime and carbolic acid, with a touch of lactic acid added thereto, 
then filled the thing up with water and inserted the steam-spout under 
the canopy. Everything was ship-shape, now, and we sat down on 
either side of the crib to stand our watch. Sandy was so grateful and 









" SO WE TOOK A MAN-OF-WAR." 



so comforted that she'charged a couple of church-wardens with willow- 
bark and sumach-tobacco for us, and told us to smoke as much as we 
pleased, it couldn't get under the canopy, and she was used to smoke, 
being the first lady in the land who had ever seen a cloud blown. 
Well, there couldn't be a more contented or comfortable sight than Sir 
Launcelot in his noble armor sitting in gracious serenity at the end of 
a yard of snowy church-warden. He was a beautiful man, a lovely 
man, and was just intended to make a wife and children happy. But 



5'8 



THREE YEARS LATER. 



of course, Gucncvcr — however, it's no use to cry over what's done and 
can't be helped. 

Well, he stood watch-and-watch with me, right straight through, 
for three days and nights, till the child was out of danger; then he took 
her up in his great arms and kissed her, with his plumes falling about 
her golden head, then laid her softly in Sandy's lap again and took his 
stately way down the vast hall, between the ranks of admiring men- 
at-arms and menials, and so disappeared. And no instinct warned me 
that I should never look upon him again in this world! Lord, what a 
world of heart-break it is. 

The doctors said we must take the child away, if we would coax her 
back to health and strength again. And she must have sea air. So we 
took a man-of-war, and a suite of two hundred and sixty persons, and 
went cruising about, and after a fortnight of this we stepped ashore on 
the French coast, and the doctors thought it would be a good idea to 
make something of a stay there. The little king of that region offered 
us his hospitalities, and we were glad to accept. If he had had as many 
conveniences as he lacked, we should have been plenty comfortable 
enough; even as it was, we made out very well, in his queer old castle, 
by the help of comforts and luxuries from the ship. 

At the end of a month I sent the vessel home for fresh supplies, and 
for news. We expected her back in three or four days. She would bring 
me, along with other news, the result of a certain experiment which I 
had been starting. It was a project of mine to replace the tournament 
with something which might furnish an escape for the extra steam of 
the chivalry, keep those bucks entertained and out of mischief, and at 
the same time preserve the best thing in them, which w^as their hardy 
spirit of emulation. I had had a choice band of them in private train- 
ing for some time, and the date was now arriving for their first public 
effort. 

This experiment was base-ball. In order to give the thing vogue 



THREE YEARS LATER 



5'9 



from the start, and place it out of the rcacli of criticism, I cliosc my 
nines by rank, not capacity. There wasn't a knight in cither team who 
wasn't a sceptred sovereign. As for material of this sort, there was a 
glut of it, always, around Arthur. Yo u couldn't throw a brick in any 
directi on and not crip ple a king. iDf course I_co uldn't get these pe ople 
to leave off t heir ar mor; thev woul dn't do J±LaJ;_ .when they b athed. 
They consented to differentiate the armor so that a body could tell one 



Being 



team from the other, but 

do. So, one of the teams 

the other wore plate-armor 

steel. Their practice in the 

thing I ever saw. 

of the way, but stood still 

when a Bessemer was at /'-^ 

hit him, it would bound 

fifty yards, sometimes. 

was running, and threw him 

to slide to his base, it was 



that was the most they would 
wore chain-mail ulsters, and 
made of my new Bessemer 
field was the most fantastic 
ball-proof, they never skipped out 
and took the result; 
the bat and a ball 
a hundred and 
And when a man 
self on his stomach 
like an iron-clad com- 
ing into port. At 
first I appointed 
men of no rank 
to act as umpires, but I had to 
discontinue that. These peo- 
ple were no easier to please 
than other nines. The umpire's first decision w^as usually his last; 
they broke him in two with a bat, and his friends toted him home on 
a shutter. When it was noticed that no umpire ever survived a 
game, umpiring got to be unpopular. So I was obliged to appoint 
somebody whose rank and lofty position under the government w'^uld 
protect him. 

Here are the names of the nines: 




CATCHER OF THE ULSTER NINE. 



5-0 



THREE YEARS LA TER. 





BESSEMERS. 




ULSTERS. 


King 


Arthlr. 




Emperor Lucius. 


King 


Lot ok Lothian. 




King Logris. 


King 


OK NORTIIGALIS. 




King Marhalt of Ireland. 


King 


Marsil. 




King Morganore. 


King 


OK Little Britain. 




King Mark of Cornwall. 


King 


Labor. 




King Nentres of Garlot. 


King 


Pellam OF Listengese. 


King Meliodas of Liones. 


King 


Bagdemagus. 




King of the Lake. 


King 


Tolleme l.\ Feintes. 




The Sowdan of Syria. 




u> 


'iipire- 


-Clarence. 



The first public game would certainly draw fifty thousand people; 
and for solid fun would be worth going around the world to see. Every- 
thing would be favorable; it was balmy and beautiful spring weather, 
now, and Nature was all tailored out in her new clothes. 




mM 



'^,,^^ '^v^^ 




16 



CHAPTER XLI. 

THE INTER DICT. 

OWEVER, my attention was suddenly 
-rzi _ snatched from such matters; our child 
began to lose ground again, and 
we had /] to go to sitting up 
^^' with her, her case be- 
came so serious. We 
couldn't bear to allow 
anybody to help, in this 
service, so we two stood 
watch-and-watch, day in and 
day out. Ah, Sandy, what a 
right heart she had, how sim- 
ple, and genuine, and good she 
was! She was a flawless wife 
and mother; and yet I had married 
her for no particular reason, except 
customs of chiv- 
alr}' she was m}- 
property until 
some knight should 
win her from me 
in the field. She 
had hunted Britain over 
for me; had found me at the hanging-bout outside of London, and had 
straightway resumed her old place at my side in the placidest way 




5-4 



THE I. \ VERDICT. 



and as of right. I was a New Englandcr, and in my opinion this sort 
of partnership would compromise her, sooner or hiter. She couldn't 
see how, but I cut argument short and we had a wedding. 

Now I dii-ln't know I was drawing a prize, yet that was what I did 
draw. Within the twelvemonth I became her worshiper; and ours 
was the dearest and perfectest comradeship that ever was. People 
talk about beautiful friendships between two persons of the same sex. 
Wiiat is the best of that sort, as compared with the friendship of man 
and wife, where the best impulses and highest ideals of both are the 
same.' There is no place for comparison between the two friendships; 
the one is earthl}', the other divine. 

In m\' dreams, along at first, I still wandered thirteen centuries 
awa\', ami m\' unsatistied spirit went calling and harking all up and 
down the unrepl\-ing vacancies of a vanished world. Many a time 
Sandy heard that imploring cry come from my lips in my sleep. With 
a grand magnanimity she saddled that cry of mine upon our child, 
conceiving it to be the name of some lost darling of mine. It touched 
me to tears, and it also nearl}' knocked me off my feet, too, when she 
smiled up in ni}" face for an earned reward, and played her quaint and 
pretty surprise upon me : 

"The name of one who was dear to thee is here preserved, here 
m.ade holy, and the music of it will abide alway in our ears. Now 
thou'lt kiss me, as knowing the name I have given the child." 

But I didn't know it, all the same. I hadn't an idea in the world; 
but it would have been cruel to confess it and spoil her pretty game; 
so I never let on, but said: 

" Yes, I know, sweetheart — how dear and good it is of you, too! 
But I want to hear these lips of yours, which are also mine, utter it 
first — then its music will be perfect." 

Pleased to the marrow, she murmured — 

" Hello-Central!" 




" heu.o-central!' 



52s 



:^26 



THE IX rESDlCT. 



I ilitlii't laui^h — 1 am always thankful for that — but the strain rup- 
tured every cartilage in me, and for weeks afterward I could hear my 
bones clack when I walked. She never found out her mistake. The 
first time sjie heard that form of salute used at the telephone she was 
surprised, and not pleased; but I told her I had given order for it: that 
henceforth and forever the telephone must always be invoked with that 
reverent formality, in perpetual honor and remembrance of my lost 
friend and her small namesake. This was not true. But it answered. 

Well, during two weeks and a half we watched by the crib, and in 
our deep solicitude we were unconscious of any world outside of that 
sick-room. Then our reward came: the centre of the universe turned 
the corner and began to mend. Grateful.^ It isn't the term. There 
isnt any term for it. You know that, yourself, if you've watched your 
child through the Valley of the Shadow and seen it come back to life 
and sweep night out of the earth with one all -illuminating smile that 
you could cover with your hand. 

Why, we were back in this world in one instant! Then we looked 
the same startled thought into each other's eyes at the same moment: 
more than two weeks gone, and that ship not back yet! 

In another minute I appeared in the presence of my train. They 
had been steeped in troubled bodings all this time — their faces showed 
it. I called an escort and we galloped five miles to a hill-top over- 
looking the sea. Where was my great commerce that so lately had 
made these glistering expanses populous and beautiful with its white- 
winged flocks.' Vanished, every one! Not a sail, from verge to verge, 
not a smoke-bank — ^just a dead and empty solitude, in place of all that 
brisk and breezy life. 

I went swiftly back, saying not a word to anybody. I told Sandy 
this ghastly news. We could imagine no explanation that would be- 
gin to explain. Had there been an invasion.-* an earthquake.-* a pesti- 
lence.' Had the nation been swept out of existence.' But guessing 



THE INTERDICT. 



527 



was profitless. I must go — at once. I borrowed the king's navy — a 
"ship " no bigger than a steam launch — and was soon ready. 

The parting — ah, yes, that was hard. As I was devouring the child 
with last kisses, it brisked up and jabbered out its vocabulary! — the 
first time in more than two weeks, and it made fools of us for joy. The 
darling mispronunciations of childhood! — dear me, there's no music 

that can touch it; and how 

one grieves when it wastes 
away and dissolves into cor- 
rectness, knowing it will 
never visit his bereaved ear 
again. Well, how good it 
was to be able to carry that 
gracious memory away 
with me ! ■ " 




I approached England 
the next morning, with the 
wide highway of salt water 
all to myself. There were 
ships in the harbor, at Dover, 
but they were naked Jr 
as to sails, and there 
was no sign of life 

about them. It was " "where was my great commerce?" 

Sunday; yet at Canterbury the streets were empty; strangest of all, 
there was not even a priest in sight, and no stroke of a bell fell upon 
my car. The mournfulness of death was everywhere. I couldn't 
understand it. At last, in the further edge of that town I saw a 
small funeral procession — ^just a family and a few friends following a 
coffin — no priest; a funeral without bell, book or candle; there was 
a church there, close at hand, but they passed it by, weeping, and 



5-^S 



THE INTERDICT. 



tliil not enter it; I planccd up at the belfry, and there hung the bell, 
shrouded in black, and its tongue tied back. Now I knew! Now I 
understood the stupendous calamity that had overtaken England, in- 
vasion ? Invasion is a triviality to it. It was the INTERDICT! 

I asked no questions; I didn't need to ask any. The Church had 
struck; the thing for me to do was to get into a disguise, and go warily. 
One of my servants gave me a suit of his clothes, and when we were 
safe beyond the town I put them on, and from that time I traveled 
alone; I could not risk the embarrassment of company. 

A miserable journey. A desolate silence everywhere. Even in 
London itself Traffic had ceased; men did not talk or laugh, or go 
in groups, or even in couples; they moved aimlessly about, each man 
b_\- himself, with his head down, and woe and terror at his heart. The 
Tower showed recent war-scars. Verily,-, much had been happening. 

Of course I meant to take the train for Camelot. Train ! Why, the 
station was as vacant as a cavern. I moved on. The journey to Came- 
lot was a repetition of what I had already seen. The Monday and the 
Tuesday differed in no way from the Sunday. I arrived, far in the 
night. From being the best electric-lighted town in the kingdom and 
the most like a recumbent sun of anything you ever saw, it was become 
simply a blot — a blot upon darkness — that is to say, it was darker and 
solider than the rest of the darkness, and so you could see it a little 
better; it made me feel as if maybe it was symbolical — a sort of sign 
that the Church was going to keep the upper liand, now, and snuff out 
all my beautiful civilization just like that. I found no life stirring in 
the sombre streets. I groped my way with a heavy heart. The vast 
castle loomed black upon the hill-top, not a spark visible about it. 
The drawbridge was down, the great gate stood wide, I entered with- 
out challenge, my own heels making the only sound I heard — and it 
was sepulchral enough, in those huge vacant courts. 



c 



^ 







\ ^i^ 












^ ^S^v rjT |^^^?c^cc^^> 



CHAPTER XLII. 




WAR 



FCJUND Clarence, alone in his quarters, drowned 
in melancholy; and in place of the electric 
light, he had re-instituted the ancient rag- 
lamp, and sat there in a grisly twilight with all 
curtains drawn tight. He sprang up and rushed 
for me eagerly, saying: 
" Oh, it's worth a billion milrays to look upon a live 
person again!" 

He knew me as easily as if I hadn't been disguised at 
all. Which frightened me; one may easily believe that. 
"Quick, now, tell me the meaning of this fearful 
disaster," I said. " How did it come about.''" 

" Well, if there hadn't been any queen Guen- 
ever, it wouldn't have come so early; but it 
would have come, anyway. It would have come 
on your own account, by and by; by luck, it 
happened to come on the queen's." 
" And Sir Launcelot's }" 
" Just so." 

" Give me the details." 

" I reckon you will grant that during some years 
u there has been only one pair of eyes in these 
[^^ kingdoms that has not been looking steadily 
askance at the queen and Sir Launcelot— " 



531 



-■J 2 WAKl 

" Yes, Kiiifj Arthur's." 

— "and (Mily one heart that was without suspicion — " 

" Yes — the kini^'s; a heart that isn't capable of thinking evil of a 
friend." 

" Well, the king might have gone on, still happy and unsuspecting, 
to the end of his days, but for one of your modern improvements — the 
stock-board. When }'ou left, three miles of the London, Canterbury 
and Dover were ready for the rails, and also ready and ripe for manipu- 
lation in the stock market. It was wildcat, and everybody knew it. 
The stock was for sale at a give-away. What does Sir Launcelot do, 
but—"' 

" Yes, I know; he quietly picked up nearly all of it, for a song; 
then he bought about twice as much more, deliverable upon call; and 
he was about to call when I left." 

"Very well, he did call. The boys couldn't deliver. Oh, he had 
them — and he just settled his grip and squeezed them. They were 
laughing in their sleeves over their smartness in selling stock to him 
at 15 and 16 and along there, that wasn't worth 10. Well, when they 
had laughed long enough on that side of their mouths, they rested-up 
that side by shifting the laugh to the other side. That was when they 
compromised wuth the Invincible at 283 !" 

" Good land !" 

" He skinned them alive, and they deserved it — anyway, the whole 
kingdom rejoiced. Well, among the flayed were Sir Agravaine and 
Sir Mordred, nephews to the king. End of the first act. Act second, 
scene first, an apartment in Carlisle castle, where the court had gone 
for a few day's hunting. Persons present, the whole tribe ot the king's 
nephews. Mordred and Agravaine propose to call the guileless 
Arthur's attention to Guenever and Sir Launcelot. Sir Gawaine, Sir 
Gareth, and Sir Gaheris will have nothing to do with it. A dispute 
ensues, with loud talk; in the midst of it, enter the king. Mordred 



WAR! 



)00 



and Agravaine spring their devastating tale upon him. Tableau. A 
trap is laid for Launcelot, by the king's command, and Sir Launcelot 
walks into it. lie made it sufficientl)' uncomfortable for the ambushed 
witnesses — to-wit, Mordred, Agrax'aine, and twelve knights of lesser 
rank, for he killed every one of them but Mordred; but of course that 
couldn't straighten matters between Launcelot and the king, and didn't." 
" Oh, dear, only one thing could result — I see that. War, and the 
kniijhts of the realm 



divided into a king's 
party and a Sir Laun- 
celot's part}'." 

" Yes — that was the 
way of it. The king 
sent the queen to the 
stake, proposing to 
purify her with fire. 
Launcelot and his 
knights rescued her, 
and in doing it slew 
certain good old friends 
of yours and mine — in 
fact, some of the best 
we e\'er had; to-wit, 
Sir Bellas le Orgulous, Sir Segwarides, Sir Griflet le Fils de Dieu, Sir 
Brandiles, Sir Aglovale — " 

" Oh, you tear out my heartstrings." 

" — wait, Lm not done yet— Sir Tor, Sir Gauter, Sir Gillimer — " 

" The very best man in my subordinate nine. What a handy right- 
fielder he was!" 

— "Sir Reynold's three brothers. Sir Damns, Sir Priamus, Sir Kay 
the Straneer — " 




DECIDING AN ARGUMENT. 



•• M\- peerless sliort-stopl I've seen him catch a daisy-cutter in 
his teeth. Come. 1 can't stand this!" 

— " Sir Driant, Sir Lambegus, Sir Herminde, Sir Pertilope, Sir Peri- 
mones, and — whom ilo >-ou think ?" 
^ " Rush! Go on." 

" Sir Gaheris, and Sir Garcth — both!"* 

" Oh, incredible! Their love for Launcelot was indestructible." 

" Well, it was an accident. They were simply on-lookers; they 
were unarmed, and were merely there to witness the queen's punish- 
ment. Sir Launcelot smote down whoever came in the way of his 
blind fury, and he killed these without noticint^ who they were. Here 
is an instantaneous photograph one of our boys got of the battle; it's 
for sale on every news stand. There — the figures nearest the queen 
are Sir Launcelot with his sword up, and Sir Gareth gasping his latest 
breath. You can catch the agony in the queen's face through the 
curling smoke. It's a rattling battle-picture." 

" Indeed it is. We must take good care of it; its historical value 
is incalculable. Go on." 

" Well, the rest of the tale is just war, pure and simple. Launcelot 
retreated to his town and castle of Joyous Gard, and gathered there a 
great following of knights. The king, with a great host, went there, 
and there was desperate fighting during several days, and as a result, 
all the plain around was paved with corpses and cast iron. Then the 
Church patched up a peace between Arthur and Launcelot and the 
queen and everybody — everybod)- but Sir Gawaiue. He Avas bitter 
about the slaying of his brothers, Gareth and Gaheris, and Avould not 
be appeased. He notified Launcelot to get him thence, and make 
swift preparation, and look to be soon attacked. So Launcelot sailed 
to his Duchy of Guienne, with his following, and Gawaine soon fol- 
lowed, with an army, and he beguiled Arthur to go with him. Arthur 
left the kingdom in Sir Mordred's hands until you should return — " 



WAA\> 



535 



"Ah — a kinc^'s customary wisdom!" 

" Yes. Sir Mordrcd set himself at once to work to make liis king- 
ship permanent. He was going to marry Guenever, as a first move; 
but she fled and shut herself up in the Tower of London. Mordred 
attacked; the Bishop of Canterbury dropped down on him with the 
Interdict. The king returned; Mordred fought him at Dover, at Can- 
terbury, and again at Barham Down. Then there was talk of peace 




"THE REST OF THE TALE IS JUST WAR, PURE AND SIMPLE." 



and a composition. Terms, Mordred to have Cornwall and Kent dur- 
ing Arthur's life, and the whole kingdom afterward." 

" Well, upon my word! My dream of a republic to be a dream, and 
so remain." 

" Yes. The two armies lay near Salisbury. Gawaine — Gawaine's 
head is at Dover Castle, he fell in the fight there — Gawaine appeared 
to Arthur in a dream, at least his ghost did, and warned him to refrain 
from conflict for a month, let the delay cost what it might. But bat- 
tle was precipitated by an accident. Arthur had given order that if a 



530 ^^'-iJ^f 

sword was raised during- the consultation over the proposed treaty 
with Mordrcd, sound the trumpet and fall on! for he had no confidence 
in Mordred. Mordrcd had giv^en a similar order to his people. Well, 
by and by an adder bit a knight's heel; the krij^ht forgot all about the 
order, and made a slash at the adder with his sword. Inside of half a 
minute those two prodigious hosts came together with a crash! They 
butchered away all da}-. Then the king — however, wc have started 
something fresh since }'ou left — our paper has." 

•'No.' What is that .'" 

" War correspondencej" 

"Why, that's good." 

" Yes, the paper was booming right along, for the Interdict made 
no impression, got no grip, while the war lasted. I, had war corre- 
spondents with both armies. I will finish that battle by reading you 
what one of the boys says: 

Then the king looked about him, and then was he ware of all his host and of all his 
good knights were left no more on live but two knights, that was Sir Lucan de Butlere, 
and his brother Sir Bedivere: and they were full sore wounded. Jesu mercy, said the 
king, where are all my noble knights becomen? Alas that ever I should see this doleful 
day. For now, said Arthur, I am come to mine end. But would to God that I wist 
where were that traitor Sir Mordred, that hath caused all this mischief. Then was King 
Arthur ware where Sir Mordred leaned upon his sword among a great heap of dead men. 
Now give me my spear, said Arthur unto Sir Lucan, for yonder I have espied the traitor 
that all this woe hath wrought. Sir, let him be, said Sir Lucan, for he is unhappy; and 
if ye pass this u- " '.ppy day, ye shall be right well revenged upon him. Good lord, re- 
member ye of ■ . night's dream, and what the spirit of Sir Gawaine told you this night, 
yet God of his ^feat goodness hath preserved you hitherto. Therefore, for God's sake, 
my lord, leave off by this. For blessed be God ye have won the field: for here we be 
three on live, and with Sir Mordred is none on live. And if ye leave off now, this wicked 
day of destiny is past. Tide me death, betide me life, saith the king, now I see him yon- 
der alone, he shall never escape mine hands, for at a better avail shall I never have him. 
God speed you well, said Sir Bedivere. Then the king gat his spear in both his hands, 
and ran toward Sir Mordred, crying. Traitor, now is thy death day come. And when Sir 
Mordred heard Sir Arthur, he ran until him with his sword drawn in his hand. And 
then King Arthur smote Sir Mordred under the shield, with a foin of his spear through- 
out the body more than a fathom. And when Sir Mordred felt that he had his death's 
wound, he thrust himself, with the might that he had, up to the but of King Arthur's 



M^A/:" ! 



537 



spear. And right so he smote his father Arthur with his sword holden in both tiis hands, 
on the side of the head, that the sword pierced the helmet and the brain-pan, arid there- 
withal Sir Mordred fell stark dead to the earth. And the noble Arthur fell in a swoon to 
the earth, and there he swooned oft-times." 

"That is a good piece of war correspondence, Clarence; you are 
a first-rate newspaper man. Well — is the king all right.? Did he get 
well.'" 

Yoox_jsx^jX^-wd-. — Me is deadr"- 




TRAITOR, NOW IS THY DEA IH DAY COME." 



I was Utterly stunned; it had not seemed to me that a^., wound 
could be mortal to him. 
I " And the queen, Clarence.-' " 
'* She is a nun, in Almesbury." 

"What changes! and in such a short while. It is inconceivable. 
What next, I wonder.'' " 

" I can tell you what next." 
I "Well?" 

I 16* 



53^' 



H^A/if 



"Stake our lives and stand by them!" 

" What do you mean by that? " 
'^' The Church is master, now. The Interdict included you with 
Mordred; it is not to~beTem6ved while you remain alive. The clans 
are gathering. ^"^The Church has gathered all the knights that are left 
alive, and as soon as you are discovered we shall have business on our 
hands." 

" Stuff. With our deadly scientific war-material; with our hosts 
of trained — " 

" Save your breath — we haven't sixty faithful left! " 

" What arc you saying.^ Our schools, our colleges, our vast work- 
shops, our — " 

/ " When those knights come, those establishments will empty them- 
selves and go over to the enemy. Did you think you had educated 
the superstition out of those people.'*" 

" I certainly did think it." 

" Well, then, you may unthink it. They stood every strain easily 
— until the Interdict. Since then, they merely put on a bold outside 
— at heart they are quaking. Make up your mind to it — when the 
armies com.e, the mask will fall." 

" It's hard news. We are lost. "They will turn our own science 
against us." 

" No they won't." 

" Why.? " 

"Because I and a handful of the faithful have blocked that game. 
I'll tell you what I've done, and what moved me to it. Smart as you 
are, the Church was smarter. It was the Church that sent you cruis- 
ing — through her servants the doctors." 

" Clarence! " 

" It is the truth. I know it. Every officer of your ship was the 
y Church's picked servant, and so was every man of the crew." 



WAJil 



539 



•' Oh, come! " 

" It is just as I tell you. I did not find out these thing^s at once, 
but I found them out finally. Did you send me verbal information, by 
the commander of the ship, to the effect that upon his return to you, 
with supplies, you were going to leave Cadiz — " 

" Cadiz! I haven't been at Cadiz at all! ' 

— "going to leave Cadiz and cruise in distant seas indefinitely, for 
the health of your family.' Did you send me that word.'' " 




" THE CHURCH IS MASTER, NOW. 



" Of course not. I would have written, wouldn't I.'" 

*' Naturally. I was troubled and suspicious. When the command- 
er sailed again I managed to ship a spy with him. I have never heard 
of vessel or spy since. I gave myself two weeks to hear from you in. 
Then I resolved to send a ship to Cadiz. There was a reason why I 
didn't." 

" What was that.' " 

" Our navy had suddenly and mysteriously disappeared! Also as 
suddenly and as mysteriously, the railway and telegraph and tele- 



,^^ X. IVAA'.' 

phoUc frerfvicc ceased, the men all deserted, poles were cut down, the 
Clunch laiil a ban upon the electric lii^ht! I had to be up and doing 
— and straiij^ht off. Your life was safe — nobody in these kingdoms but 
Merlin woukl venture to touch such a magician as you without ten 
thousan.d men at his back — I had nothing to think of but how to put 
preparations in the best trim against your coming. I felt safe myself 
— iK^bodx' wcnild be anxious to touch a pet of yours. So this is what 1 
ditl. J'rom our various works I selected all the men — boys I mean — 
whose faithfulness under whatsoever pressure I could swear to, and 1 
called them together secretly and gave them their instructions. There 
are fifty-two of them; none younger than fourteen, and none above 
seventeen years old." 

" Why did you select boys.^ " 

" Because" all the others were born in an atmosphere of superstition 
and reared in it. It is in their blood and bones. We imagined we had 
educated it out of them; they thought so, too; the Interdict woke them 
up like a thunderclap! It revealed them to themselves, and it reveal- 
ed them to me, too. With boys it was different. Such as have been 
under our training from seven to ten years have had no acquaintance 
with the Church's terrors, and it was among these that I found my 
fifty-two. As a next move, I paid a private visit, to that old cave of 
Merlin's — not the small one — the big one — " 

" Yes, the one where we secretly established our first great electric 
plant when I was projecting a miracle." 

" Just so. And as that miracle hadn't become necessary then, I 
thought it might be a good idea to utilize the plant now. I've pro- 
visioned the cave for a siege — " 

" A good idea, a first rate idea." 

" I think so. I placed four of my boys there, as a guard — inside, 
and out of sight. Nobody was to be hurt — while outside; but any at- 
tempt to enter — well, we said just let anybody try it ! Then I went 



iv^/?f 541 

out into the hills and uncovered and cut the secret wires which con- 
nected your bedroom with the wires that go to the dynamite deposits 
under all our vast factories, mills, workshops, magazines, etc., and 
about midnight I and my boys turned out and connected that wire with 
the cave, and nobody but you and I suspects where the other end of it 
goes to. We laid it under ground, of course, and it was all finished in 
a couple of hours or so. We shan't have to leave our fortress, now, 
M'hcn we want to blow up our civilization." 

" It was the right move — and the natural one; a military necessity, 
in the changed condition of things. Well, what changes /ia7'e come! 
We expected to be besieged in the palace some time or other, but — 
however, go on." 

" Next, we built a wire fence." 

" Wire fence ?" 

" Yes. You dropped the hint of it yourself, two or three years ago." 

" Oh, I remember — the time the Church tried her strength against 
us the first time, and presently thought it wise to wait for a hopefuler 
season. Well, how have you arranged the fence ?" 

" I start twelve immensely strong wires— naked, not insulated — 
from a big dynamo in the cave — dynamo with no brushes except a 
positive and a negative one — " 

" Yes, that's right." 

" The wires go out from the cave and fence-in a circle of level 
ground a hundred yards in diameter; they make twelve independent 
fences, ten feet apart — that is to say, twelve circles within circles — and 
their ends come into the cave again." 

" Right; go on." 

" The fences are fastened to heavy oaken posts onl)' three feet apart, 
and these posts are sunk five feet in the ground." 

"That is good and strong." 

" Yes. The wires have «o "round-connection outside of the cave. 



542 



WA/f! 



The}' tjo out from the positive brush of the dynamo; there :s a ground- 
connection tliroui^di the nc<^ati\'c brush; the other ends of tlie wire re- 
turn to the cave, and each is grounded independent!)-." 

" No-no, that won't do!" 

••Why?" 

" It's too expensive — uses up force for nothing. Vou don't want 
an)' ground-connection except the one through the negative brush. 
Tlie other end of every wire must be brought back into the cave and 
fastened independently, and tvithoiit any ground-connection. Now, 
then, observe the economy of it. A cavalry charge hurls itself against 
the fence; you are using no power, you are spending no money, for 
there is only one ground-connection till those horses come against the 
wire; the moment they touch it they form a connection with the nega- 
tive brush t/u'flugh tJic ground, and drop dead. Don't you see? — )'ou 
are using no energy until it is needed; your lightning is there, and 
ready, like the load in a gun; but it isn't costing you a cent till )-ou 
touch it off. Oh, yes, the single ground-connection — " 

"Of course! I don't know how I overlooked that. It's not only^ 
cheaper, but it's more effectual than the other way, for if wires break 
or get tangled, no harm is done." 

" No, especialh' if we have a tell-tale in the cave and disconnect 
the broken wire. Well, go on. The gatlings ?" 

" Yes — that's arranged. In the centre of the inner circle, on a 
spacious platform six feet high, I've grouped a battery of thirteen gat- 
ling guns, and provided plenty of ammunition." 

" That's it. The)' command every approach, and when the Church's 
knights arrive, there's going to be music. The brow of the precipice 
over the cave — " 

" I've got a wire fence there, and a gatling. They won't drop an)^ 
rocks down on us." 

"Well, and the glass-cylinder dynamite to»-pedoes?" 



WAR! 



54: 



" That's attended to. It's the prettiest q'arden that was ever plant- 
ed. It's a belt fort)' feet wide, and _i;oes around the outer fence — dis- 
tance between it and the fence one hundred }'ards — kind of neutral 
ijround, that space is. There isn't a single square yard of that whole 
belt but is equipped with a torpedo. We laid them on the surface of 
the ground, and sprinkled a layer of sand over them. It's an innocent 
looking garden, but }-ou let a man start in to hoe it once, and you'll 
see." 

" You tested the torpedoes .'" 

"Well, I war, going to, but — " 

" But what.-* Why, it's an immense oversight not to appl)' a — " 

" Test.' Yes, I know; but they're all right; I laid a few in the pub- 
lic road beyond our lines and they've been tested." 

"Oh, that alters the case. Who did it.-' " 

"A Church committee." 

" How kind! " 

"Yes. They came to command us to make submission. You see 
they didn't really come to test the torpedoes; that was merel}^ an 
incident." 

" Did the committee make a report.'' " 

" Yes, they made one. You could have heard it a mile." 

" Unanimous.'" 

"That was the nature of it. After that I put up some signs, for 
the protection of future committees, and we have had no intruders 
since." 

"Clarence, you've done a world of work, and done it perfectly." 

" We had plenty of time for it; there wasn't any occasion for hurry." 

We sat silent awhile, thinking. Then m)' mind was made up, and 
I said: 

"Yes, everything is ready; everything is shii)shape, no detail is 
wanting. I know what to do, now." 



544 



IVAR! 



"So do I; sit down and wait." 

" No, sir! rise up and strike'!" 

" Do \()u nuan it? " 

" Vcs, indeed! The ^/^'fensive isn't in in}' line, and the c^/Tensive is. 
That is, when 1 hold a fair hand — two-tliirds as good a hand as the 
cnem)'. Oh, \-es, we'll rise up and strike; that's our game." 

"A hundred to one, you are right. When does the performance 
begin. ■" " 

*' Now ! We'll proclaim the Republic." 

"Well, that zci7/ precipitate things, sure enough! " 

"It will make them buzz, / tell you! England will be a hornet's 
nest before noon to-morrow, if the Church's hand hasn't lost its cun- 
ning — and we know it hasn't. Now }'ou write and I'll dictate — thus: 

" PROCLAMATION. 



" BE IT KNOWN UNTO ALL. Whereas the king having died and left no heir, it 
becomes my duty to continue the executive authority vested in me, until a government 
shall have been created and set in motion. The monarchy has lapsed, it no longer e.xists. 
By consequence, all political power has reverted to its original source, the people of the 
nation. With the monarchy, its several adjuncts died also; wherefore there is no longer 
a nobility, no longer a privileged class^no longer an Established Church: all men are 
become exactly equal, they are upon one common level, and religion is free. ./ Republic 
is her cliy proclaimed, as being the natural estate of a nation when other authority has ceased. 
It is the duty of the British people to meet togetlier immediately, and by their votes elect 
representatives and deliver into their hands the government." 



I signed it "The Boss," and dated it from Merlin's Cave. Clarence 

said: 

" Wh}'. that tells where we are, and in\'ites them to call right away." 
" That is the idea. We strike — by the Proclamation — then it's their 

innings. Now have the thing set up and printed and posted, right off; 

that is, give the order; then, if }-ou've got a couple of bicycles handy 

at the foot of the hill, ho for Merlin's Cave! " 



iVAJi! 



545 



"I shall be ready in ten minutes. What a cyclone there is going 

to be to-morrow when this piece of paper gets to work! 

It's a pleasant old palace, this is; I wonder if we shall ever again — but 
never mind about that." 



\c* 



CHAPTER XLIII. 



^^q^^Sfe^JH^ 



THE BATTLE OF THE SAND-BELT. 




N Merlin's Cave — Clarence and I and fifty -two 

fresh, bright, well educated, clean -minded 

young British boys. At dawn I sent an 

order to the factories and to all our 

great w^orks to stop operations and 

remove all life to a safe distance, as 

^c^^ '^■^i /*i' \ '^T everything was going to be blown up 

by secret mines, " cr/u/ no telling at 
what vionicnt — therefore, vacate at 
once.'" These people knew me, and 
had confidence in my word. They 
would clear out without waiting to 
part their hair, and I could take my 
own time about dating the explo- 
sion. You couldn't hire one of them 
to go back during the century, if the 
explosion was still impending. 
We had a week of waiting. It was not dull for 
me, because I was writing all the time. During the 
first three days, I finished turning my old diary into this 
narrative form; it only required a chapter or so to bring it down 
to date. The rest of the week I took up in writing letters to m)' 
wife. It was always my habit to write to Sandy every day, when- 
ever we were separate, and now I kept up the habit for love of it, 

549 



550 



TFIK BATTLE OF THE SAND-BELT. 



and of licr, though I could- 
n't do anything with the 
letters, of course, after I 
had written them. Hut 
it put in the time, you 
see, and was almost like 
talking; it was almost as 
if I was saying, "Sandy, if you 
Central were here in the cave, in- 
photographs, what good times we 
And then, you know, I could 
baby goo-gooing some- 
pi)-, with its fists in its 
stretched across its moth- 
and she a-laughing and 
shiping, and now 
under the baby's 
and t h e n 




and Hello- 
stead of only your 
could have!" 
imagine the 
thing out in re- 
mouth and itself 
er's lap on its back, 
admiring and wor- 
N and then tickling 
chin to set it cackling, 
maybe throwing in a 
word of answer to me 
erself — and so on and so 
on — well, don't you 
r=^ know, I could sit 
there in the cave 
with m )' 
pen, and 

"I COULD IMAGINE THE BABY GOO-GOOING." kCCp it Up, 

that way, by the hour with them. Why, it was almost like having us 
all together again. 

I had spies out, every night, of course, to get news. Every report 
made things look more and more impressive. The hosts were gather- 
ing, gathering; down all the roads and paths of England the knights 



/ THE BATTLE OF THE SA A. '^-^^^T. 55 I 

were riding, and priests rode with them, to 1. ^ -^ these original Cru- 
saders, this being the Church's war. All the nobilities, big and little, 
were on their way, and all the gentry. This was all as was expected. 
We should thin out this sort of folk to such a degree that the people 
would have nothing to do but just step to the front with their republic 
and 

Ah, what a donkey I was! Toward the end of the week I began to 
get this large and disenchanting fact through my head: that the mass 
of the nation had swung their caps and shouted for the republic for 
about one day, and there an end ! The Church, the nobles, and the 
gentry then turned one grand, all-disapproving frown upon them and 
shriveled them into sheep! From that moment the sheep had begun 
to gather to the fold — that is to say, the camps — and offer their value- 
less lives and their valuable wool to the " righteous cause." Why, 
even the very men who had lately been slaves were in the " righteous 
cause," and glorifying it, praying for it, sentimentally slabbering over 
it, just like all the other commoners. Imagine such human muck as 
this; conceive of this folly! 

Yes, it was now " Death to the Republic!" everywhere — not a dis- 
senting voice. All England was marching against us! Truly this was 
more than I had bargained for. 

1 watched my fifty-two boys narrowly; watched their faces, their 
walk, their unconscious attitudes: for all these are a language — a lan- 
guage given us purposely that it may betray us in times of emergency, 
when we have secrets which we want to keep. I knew that that 
thought would keep saying itself over and over again in their minds 
and hearts. All England is marcJiing agamst 21s! and evermore stren- 
uously imploring attention with each repetition, ever more sharply 
realizing itself to their imaginations, until even in their sleep the}' 
would find no rest from it, but hear the vague and flitting creatures of 
their dreams say, All England — ALL ENGLAND ! — is marching against 



552 



7 "HE BATTLE OF THE SAND-BELT. 



you! I knew all tlU ccfould happen; I knew that ultimately the press- 
ure would become so great that it would compel utterance; therefore, 
I must be ready with an answer at that time — an answer well chosen 
and trantiuiiizinij^. 

I was rii;ht. The time came. They had to speak. Poor lads, it 
was pitiful to see, they were so pale, so worn, so troubled. At first 
their spokesman could hardly find voice or words; but he presently 
got both. This is what he said — and he put it in the neat modern 
English taught him in my schools: 

"We have tried to forget what we are — English boys! We have 
tried to put reason before sentiment, duty before love; our minds ap- 
prove, but our hearts reproach us. While apparently it was only the 
nobilit)', only the gentr)', only the twenty-five or thirty thousand 
knights left ali\-e out of the late wars, we were of one mind, and undis- 
turbed by any troubling doubt; each and every one of these fifty- 
two lads who stand here before you, said, ' They have chosen — it is 
their affair.' But think! — the matter is altered — all England is marcJi- 
ing against ns! Oh, sir, consider! — reflect! — these people are our 
people, they are bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, we love them — do 
not ask us to destroy our nation!" 

Well, it shows the value of looking ahead, and being ready for a 
thing when it happens. If I hadn't foreseen this thing and been fixed, 
that boy would have had me! — I couldn't have said a word. But I ivas 
fixed. I said: 

" My boys, your hearts are in the right place, you have thought the 
worthy thought, you have done the worthy thing. You are English 
boys, you will remain English boys, and you will keep that name un- 
smirched. Give yourselves no further concern, let your minds be at 
peace. Consider this: while all England is marching against us, who 
is in the van.' Who, by the commonest rules of war, will march in the 
front.? Answer me." 



THE BATTLE OF THE SAND-BELT. 553 

" The mounted host of mailed knights." 

"True. They are 30,000 strong. Acres deep, they will march. 
Now, observe: none but they will ever strike the sand-belt! Then 
there will be an episode! Immediately after, the civilian multitude in 
the rear will retire, to meet business engagements elsewhere. None 
but nobles and gentry are knights, and none but these will remain to 
dance to our music after that episode. It is absolutely true that we 
shall have to fight nobody but these thirty thousand knights. Now 
speak, and it shall be as you decide. Shall we avoid the battle, retire 
from the field." 

"NO!!!" 

The shout was unanimous and hearty. 

"Are you — are you — well, afraid of these thirty thousand 
knights .''" 

That joke brought out a good laugh, the boys' troubles vanished 
away, and they went gaily to their posts. Ah, they were a darling 
fifty-two! As pretty as girls, too. 

I was ready for the enemy, now. Let the approaching big day 
come along — it would find us on deck. 

The big day arrived on time. At dawn the sentry on watch in the 
corral came into the cave and reported a moving black mass under the 
horizon, and a faint sound which he thought to be military music. 
Breakfast was just ready; we sat down and ate it. 

This over, I made the boys a little speech, and then sent out a 
detail to man the battery, with Clarence in command of it. 

The sun rose presently and sent its unobstructed splendors over the 
land, and we saw a prodigious host moving slowly toward us, with the 
steady drift and aligned front of a wave of the sea. Nearer and nearer 
it came, and more and more sublimely imposing became its aspect; 
yes, all England was there, apparently. Soon we could see the innum- 
erable banners fluttering, and then the sun struck the sea of armor and 



c^r.| THE BATTLE OF THE SAND- BELT. 

set it all aflash. Yes, it was a fine siijht; I hadn't ever seen anything 
to beat it. 

At last we could make out details. All the front ranks, no telling 
how many acres deep, were horsemen — plumed knights in armor. 
Suddenly we heard the blare of trumpets; the slow walk burst into a 
gallop, and then — well, it was wonderful to see! Down swept that 
vast horse-shoe wave — it approached the sand-belt — my breath stood 
still; nearer, nearer— the strip of green turf beyond the yellow belt 
grew narrow — narrower still — became a mere ribbon in front of the 
horses — then disappeared under their hoofs. Great Scott! Why, the 
whole front of that host shot into the sky with a thunder-crash, and 
became a whirling tempest of rags and fragments; and along the 
ground lay a thick wall of smoke that hid what was left of the multitude 
from our sight. 

Time for the second step in the plan of campaign! I touched a 
button, and shook the bones of England loose from her spine! 

In that explosion all our noble civilization-factories went up in 
the air and disappeared from the earth. It was a pity, but it was 
necessary. We could not afford to let the enemy turn our own weap- 
ons against us. 

Now ensued one of the dullest quarter-hours I had ever endured. 
We waited in a silent solitude enclosed by our circles of wire, and by 
a circle of heavy smoke outside of these. We couldn't see over the 
wall of smoke, and we couldn't see through it. But at last it began to 
shred away lazily, and by the end of another quarter-hour the land was 
clear and our curiosity was enabled to satisfy itself. No living creature 
was in sight! We now perceived that additions had been made to our 
defences. The dynamite had dug a ditch more than a hundred feet 
wide, all around us, and cast up an embankment some twenty-five feet 
high on both borders of it. As to destruction of life, it was amazing. 
Moreover, it was beyond estimate. Of course we could not corint the 



--5 THE nATTLE OE THE SAA'D-BELT. 

tlcad, because they did not exist as individuals, but merely as homo- 
geneous protoplasm, with alloys of iron and buttons. 

No life was in sij^ht, but necessarily there must have been some 
wounded in the rear ranks, who were carried off the field under cover 
of the wall of smoke; there would be sickness among the others— there 
always is, after an episode like that. But there would be no reinforce- 
ments; this was the last stand of the chivalry of England; it was all 
that was left of the order, after the recent annihilating wars. So I felt 
quite safe in believing that the utmost force that could for the future 
be brought against us would be but small; that is, of knights. I there- 
fore issued a congratulatory proclamation to my army in these words: 

Soldiers, Champions of Human Liberty and Equality: Your General congratu- 
lates you! In the pride of his strength and the vanity of his renown, an arrogant enemy 
came against you. You were ready. The conflict was brief; on your side, glorious. 
This mighty victory having been achieved utterly without loss, stands without example 
in history. So long as the planets shall continue to move in their orbits, the Battle 
OK THE Sand-Belt will not perish out of the memories of men. THE BOSS. 

I read it well, and the applause I got was very gratifying to me. I 
then wound up with these remarks: 

"The war with the English nation, as^jiation, is at an^end. The 
nation has retired from the field and the war. Before it can be per- 
suaded to return, war will have ceased. This campaign is the only 
one that is going to be fought. It will be brief — the briefest in history. 
Also the most destructive to life, considered from the standpoint of 
proportion of casualties to numbers engaged. We are done with the 
nation; henceforth we deal only with the knights. English knights 
can be killed. but they cannot be conquered. We know what is before 
us. While one of these men remains alive, our task is not finished, the 
war is not ended. We will kill them all." [Loud and long continued 
applause.] 

I picketed the great embankments thrown up around our lines by 



THE BATTLE OF THE SAXD-BELT. 



557 



the d\'namite explosion — merely ;i lookout of a couple of bo}'s to 
announce the eneni)' when he should appear again. 

Next, I sent an engineer and forty men to a point just beyond our 
lines on the south, lo turn a mountain brook that was there, and bring 
it within our lines and under our comm.ind, arranging it in such a way 
that 1 could make instant use of it in an emergency. The forty men 
were divided into two shifts of twent)' each, and were to reliev^e each 
other every two hours. In ten hours the work was accomplished. 

Itwas nightfall, now, and I withdrew my pickets. The one who had 
had the northern outlook reported a camp insight, but visible with the 
glass only. He also reported that a few knights had been feeling their 
way toward us, and had driven some cattle across our lines, but that 
the knights themselves had not come very near. That was what I had 
been expecting. They were feeling us, you see; they wanted to know 
if we were going to play that red terror on them again. They would 
grow bolder in the night, perhaps. I believed I knew what project 
they would attempt, because it was plainly the thing I would attempt 
m\'self if I were in their places and as ignorant as they were. I men- 
tioned it to Clarence. 

"I think you are right," said he; "it is the obvious thing for them 
to try." 

"Well, then," I said, "if they do it they are doomed." 

"Certainly." 

"They won't have the slightest show in the world." 

"Of course they won't." 

"It's dreadful, Clarence. It seems an awful pity." 

The thing disturbed me so, that I couldn't get anv peace of mind 
for thinking of it and worrying over it. So, at last, to quiet my con- 
science, I framed this message to the knights: 

To THE HONOR.VHLE THE CoMM.\NDER OF THE INSURGENT CHIVALRY OF ENGLAND: 

You fight in vain. We know your strength — if one may call it by that name. We know 
17 



55^^ 



THE HATTl.E OF THE SAND-BELT 



that at the utmost you cannot bring against us above five and twenty thousand knights. 
Therefore, you have no chance — none whatever. Reflect: we are well equipped, well 
for'iificd, wc number 54. Fifty-f our what? _ M(m2 — i J «. f uiuJs — the m p ablest in t he 
wori<l; a force against which mer e animal miudit may no more ho pe to prevailthanjpay 
the idliTwiivcs ol tlic sea hope ti) prev ail again st the grani te bar ner g, ol E ngland. Be 
adviseiTT — 'We' orf r i ^you your lives; for the sake of your families, do not reject the gift. 
We offer you this chance, and it is the last: throw down your arms; surrender uncon- 
ditionally to the Republic, and all will be forgiven. 

(Signed). The Boss. 

I read it to Clarence, and said I proposed to send it by a flag of 
truce. He laughed the sarcastic laugh he was born with, and said: 

"Somehow it seems impossible for you to ever fully realize what 
these nobilities are. Now let us save a little time and trouble. Con- 
sider me the commander of the knights yonder. Now then, you are 
the flag of truce; approach and deliver me your message, and I will 
give you your answer." 

I humored the idea. I came forward under an imaginary guard of 
the enemy's soldiers, produced my paper, and read it through. For 
answer, Clarence struck the paper out of my hand, pursed up a scorn- 
ful lip and said with lofty disdain — 

"Dismember me this animal, and return him in a basket to the 
base-born knave who sent him; other answer have I none!" 

How empty is theory in presence of faict! And this was just fact, 
and nothing else. It was the thing that would have happened, there 
was no getting around that. I tore up the paper and granted my mis- 
timed sentimentalities a permanent rest. 

Then, to business. I tested the electric signals from the gatling 
platform to the cave, and made sure that they were all right; I tested 
and re-tested those which commanded the fences — these were signals 
whereby I could break and renew the electric current in each fence 
independently of the others, at will. I placed the brook-connection 
under the guard and authority of three of my best boys, who would 
alternate in two-hour watches all night and promptl}' obey my signal, 



THE BATTLE OF THE SAND-BELT 



55Q 



if I should have oc- 
casion to give it — 
three revolver- 
shots in quick suc- 
cession. Sentry- 
duty was discarded 
for the night, and 
the corral left 
empty of life; I or- 
dered that quiet be 
maintained in the 
cave, and the elec- 
tric lights turned 
down to a glimmer. 
As soon as it 
was good and dark, 
I shut off the cur- 
rent from all of the 
fences, and then 
groped my way out 
to the embankment 
bordering our side 
of the great dyna- 
mite ditch. I crept 
to the top of it and 
lay there on the 
slant of the muck 
to watch. But it 
was too dark to see 
anything. As for 
sounds, there were 




HIGH CHURCH. 



560 



Till: liATTLl'. OF I UK SA X D-H I-ILT. 



iioiu". 'Ihc stillness was ilcath-likc. True, there were the usual niij^ht- 
souiuls of tin- ciiuntr)' — the whir of nii^ht-hirds, the bu/,/.in<^ of insects, 
the barkinj^ of distant doi^s, the mellow lowing of far-off kine — but 
■iiesc didn't seem to break the stillness, they only intensified it, and 
added a grewsome melancholy to it into the bari^ain. 

I presently g-ave up looking, the night shut down so black, but I 
kept my ears strained to catch the least suspicious sound, for I judged 
I had only to wait and 1 shouldn't be disappointed. However, I had 
to wait a long time. At last I caught what you may call indistinct 
glim[)ses of sound — dulled metallic sound. I pricked up m}' cars, then, 
and held my breath, for this was the sort of thing I liad been waiting 
for. This sound thickened, and approached — from toward the north. 
Presently I heard it at my own level — the ridge-top of the opposite 
embankment, a hundred feet or more away. Then I seemed to see a 
row of black dots appear along that ridge — human heads.^ I couldn't 
tell; it mightn't be an}-thing at all; you can't depend on your eyes 
when )-our imagination is out of focus. However, the question was 
soon settled. I heard that metallic noise descending into the great 
ditch. It augmented fast, it spread all along, and it unmistakably fur- 
nished me this fact: an armed host was taking up its quarters in the 
ditch. Yes, these people were arranging a little surprise party for us. 
We could expect entertainment about dawn, possibly earlier. 

I groped my way back to the corral, now; I had seen enough. I 
went to the platform and signalled to turn the current onto the two 
inner fences. Then I went into the cave, and found ever)-thing satis- 
factor)' there — nobody awake but the working-watch. I woke Clar- 
ence and told him the great ditch was filling up with men, and that I 
believed all the knights were coming for us in a body. It was m}- no- 
tion that as soon as dawn approached we could expect the ditch's 
ambuscaded thousands to swarm up over the embankment and make 
an assault, and be followed immediately by the rest of their army. 



THE BATTLE OF THE SAKD-BELT. 56 1 

Clarence said: 

" They will be wantint^ to send a scout or two in the dark to make 
preliminary observations. Why not take the lightnint; off the outer 
fences, and give them a chance?" 

"I've already done it, Clarence. Did you ever know me to 'be 
inhospitable V 

" No, you are a good heart. I want to go and — " 

" Be a reception committee.' I will go, too." 

We crossed the corral and lay down together between the two 
inside fences. Even the dim light of the cave had disordered our eye- 
sight somewhat, but the focus straightway began to regulate itself and 
soon it was adjusted for present circumstances. We had had to feel 
our way before, but we could make out to see the fence posts now. 
We started a whispered conversation, but suddenly Clarence broke off 
and said: 

" What is that.?" 

"What is what.?" 

" That thing yonder.?" 

" What thing — where.''" 

" There beyond you a little piece — a dark something — a dull shape 
of some kind — against the second fence." 

I gazed and he gazed. I said: 

" Could it be a man, Clarence.?" 

" No, I think not. If you notice, it looks a lit — wh}', it is a man! — 
leaning on the fence." 

" I certainly believe it is; let's us go and see." 

We crept along on our hands and knees until we were pretty close, 
and then looked up. Yes, it was a man — a dim great figure in armor, 
standing erect, with both hands on the upper wire— and of course there 
was a smell of burning flesh. Poor fellow, dead as a door-nail, and 
never knew what hurt him. He stood there like a statue — no motion 



THE BATJ LE OF 7 HE SAND-BELT. 

about him, except that his plumes 
swished about a Httle in the night 
wind. We rose up and looked in 
througli the bars of his visor, but 
couldn't make out whether we knew 
him or not — features too dim and shadowed. 
We heard muffled sounds approaching, 
and we sank down to the ground where we 
were. We made out another knii^dit 
vaguely; he was coming very stealth- 
ily, and feeling his way. He was near 
enough, now, for us to see him put 
out a hand, find an upper wire, then 
bend and step under it and over the 
lower one. Now he arrived at the 
first knight — and started slightly 
when he discovered him. He stood 
a moment — no doubt wondering 
why the other one didn't move 
on ; then he said, in a low 
voice, "Why dreamest thou 
good Sir Mar — " then 
he laid his hand on 
the corpse's 
shoulder — a n d 
just utter- 
ed a little 
soft moan 
€<T.v2.^ ' ^^^^ sunk 



d o w n 

AFTEK THE EXPLOilOJS. ' d C a d . 




THE KATTLK OF J'HE ^AND-HELT. ^ ^ 

Killed by a dead man, you see — killed by a dead friend, \\ faci. 
There was something awful about it. 

These early birds came scattering along after each other, about 
one every five minutes in our vicinity, during half an hour. They 
brought no armor of offence but their swords; as a rule they carried 
the sword ready in the hand, and put it forward and found the wires 
with it. We would now and then see a blue spark when the knight 
that caused it was so far away as to be invisible to us; but we knew 
what had happened, all the same, poor fellow; he had touched a 
charged wire with his sword and been elected. We had brief intervals 
of grim stillness, interrupted with piteous regularity by the clash made . 
by the falling of an iron-clad; and this sort of thing was going on, right 
along, and was very creepy, there in the dark and lonesomeness. 

We concluded to make a tour between the inner fences. We elected 
to walk upright, for convenience sake; we argued that if discerned, we 
should be taken for friends rather than enemies, and in any case we 
should be out of reach of swords, and these gentry did not seem to 
have any spears along. Well, it was a curious trip. Everywhere dead 
men were lying outside the second fence — not plainly visible, but still 
visible; and we counted fifteen of those pathetic statues — dead knights 
standing with their hands on the upper wire. 

One thing seemed to be sufficiently demonstrated: our current was 
so tremendous that it killed before the victim could cry out. Pretty 
soon we detected a muffled and heavy sound, and next moment we 
guessed what it was. It was a surprise in force coming! I whispered 
Clarence to go and wake the army, and notify it to wait in silence in 
the cave for further orders. He was soon back, and we stood by the 
inner fence and watched the silent lightning do its awful work upon 
that swarming host. One could make out but little of detail; but he 
could note that a black mass was piling itself up beyond the second 
fence. That swelling bulk was dead men! Our camp was enclosed 



50 J 



J- UK BATTLE OF THE SA AD-BELT. 



with a solid wall of the dcad^a Ijulwark, a breastwork-, of corpses, 
}-oii ina>' sa)'. One terriJjle thin<4 about tliis t!iin<^ was the absence/ 
of huiiiaii voices; liiere were no cheers, no war cries: being intent 
upon a suri)rise, tiiese men moved as noiselessly as they could; and 
a!wa}-s when the front rank was near enough to their goal to make it 
proper for them to begin to get a shout ready, of course they struck 
the fatal line and went down without testifying. 

1 sent a current through the third fence, now; and almost immedi- 
atel)' through the fourth and fifth, so quickl}' were the gaps fdled up. 
1 belie\'ed the time was come, now, for my climax; I believed that 
that whole army was in our trap. Anyway, it was high time to find 
out. So I touched a button and set fifty electric suns aflame on the top 
of our precipice. 

Land, what a sight! We were enclosed in three walls of dead men! 
All the other fences were pretty nearly filled with the living, who were 
stealthily working their way forward through the wires. The sudden 
glare paralyzed this host, petrified them, you miy say, with astonish- 
ment; there was just one instant for me to utilize their immobility in, 
and I didn't lose the chance. You see, in another instant the)' would 
have recovered their faculties, then they'd have burst into a cheer and 
made a rush, and my wires would have gone down before it; but that 
lost instant lost them their opportunity forever; while even that slight 
fragment of timj was still unspent, I shot the current through all the 
fences and struck the whole host dead in their tracks! There was a 
groan you could hear! It voiced the death- pang of eleven thousand 
men. It swelled out on the night with awful pathos. 

A glance showed that the rest of the enemy — perhaps ten thousantl 
strong — were between us and the encircling ditch, and pressing for- 
ward to the assault. Consequently we had them all ! and had them 
past help. Time for the last act of the tragedy. I fired the three ap- 
pointed revolver shots — which meant: 



THE BA TTLE OF THE SAND-BEL T. 



565 



" Turn on the water!" 

There was a sudden rush and roar, and in a minute the mountain 
brook was raging through the big ditch and creating a river a hundred 
feet w ide and twenty-five deep. 

" Stand to your guns, men! Open fire!" 

The thirteen gatHngs began to vomit death into the fated ten thou- 
sand. They halted, they stood their ground a moment against that 
withering deluge of fire, then they broke, faced about and swept tow- 
ard the ditch like chaff before a gale. A full fourth part of their force 




.^^^^ 



THE CHURCH PUTS ITS FOOT IN IT. 



never reached the top of the lofty embankment; the three-fourths 
reached it and plunged over — to death by drowning. 

Y/ithin ten short minutes after we had opened fire, armed resist- 
ance was totally annihilated, the campaign was ended, we fifty-four 
were masters of England ! Twenty-five thousand men lay dead 
around us. 

But how treacherous is fortune! In a little while — say an hour — 
happened a thing, by my own fault, v/hich — but I have no heart to 
write that. Let the record end here. 



17* 



^^ 



ex 







CHAPTER XLIV. 

A POSTSCRIPT BY CLARENCE. 

CLARENCI% must write it for him. He pro- 
posed that we two go out and see if any help 
eould be afforded the \\ounded. I was strenu- 
ous against the project. I said that if there 
were many, we could do but little for them; 
and it would not be wise ibr us to trust our- 
selves among them, an}'wa}'. But he could 
seldom be turned from a purpose once form- 
ed; so we shut off the electric current from 
the fences, took an escort along, climbed 
o\-cr the enclosing ramparts of dead knights, 
and moved out upon the field. The first 
wounded man who appealed for help, was 
sitting with his back against a dead comrade. 
When the Boss bent over him and spoke to 
him, the man recognized him and stabbed him. 
That knight was Sir Meliagraunce, as 1 found 
out by tearing off his helmet. He will not ask 
for help any more. 

We carried the ^)C'^s to the cave and gave 
his wound, which was not very serious, the best 
care we could. In this service we had the 
help of Merlin, though we did not know it. 
He was disguised as a woman, and appeared to be a simple old peas- 
ant goodwife. In this disguise, with brown-stained face and smooth 

569 




570 



A POSTSCKIPr BY CLARENCE. 



shaven, he had appeared a few days after the Boss was hurt, and 
offered to cook for us, sayini;- licr people had ^one off to join certain 
new camps which the enemy were formini^, and that she was starving. 
The Hoss had been <j^etting ah)ng very well, and had amused himself 
with riiiishin<4" uj) his record. 

W'c were glad to have this woman, for we were short handed. We 
u ere in a trap, you see — a trap of our own making. If we stayed 
where we were, our dead would kill us; if we moved out of our de- 
fences, we should no longer be invincible. We had conquered; in turn 
we were conquered. The Boss recognized this; we all recognized it. 
If we could go to one of those new camps and patch up some kind of 
terms with the enemy — yes, but the Boss could not go, and neither 
could I, for I was among the first that were made sick by the poison- 
ous air bred by those dead thousands. Others were taken down, and 
still others. To-morrow — 

To-vwrroiv. It is here. And with it the end. About midnight I 
awoke, and saw that hag making curious passes in the air about the 
Boss's head and face, and wondered what it meant. Everybody but 
the dynamo-watch lay steeped in sleep; there was no sound. The 
woman ceased from her mysterious foolery, and started tip-toeing 
toward the door. I called out — 

" Stop! What have you been doing.-*" 

She halted, and said with an accent of malicious satisfaction: 

"Ye were conquerors; ye are conquered! These others are perish- 
ing — you also. Ye shall all die in this place — every one — except Jiini. 
He sleepeth, now — and shall sleep thirteen centuries. I am Merlin! " 

Then such a delirium of silly laughter overtook him that he reeled 
about like a drunken man, and presently fetched up against one of our 
wires. His mouth is spread open yet; apparently he is still laughing. 
I suppose the face will retain that petrified laugh until the corpse turns 
to dust. 



A POSTSCRIPT BY CLARENCE. 



571 



The Boss has never stirred — sleeps like a stone. If he does not 
wake to-day we shall understand what kind of a sleep it is, and his 
body will then be borne to a place in one of the remote recesses of the 
cave where none will ever find it to desecrate it. As for the rest of us 
— well, it is agreed that if any one of us ever escapes alive from this 
place, he will write the fact here, and loyally hide this Manuscript with 
the Boss, our dear good chief, whose property it is, be he alive or dead. 

END OF THE MANUSCRIPT. 




Final P. S. by M. T. 

TllK dawn was come wlicn I laid the Manuscript aside. The rain 
had ahnost ceased, the workl was t^ra)' and sad, the exhausted storm 
was siijhint;' and sobbinq; itself to rest. I went to the stran<^er's room, 




2^ (5gWlfei?%^ 



DELIRIUM, OF COURSE, BUT SO REAL!" 

572 



FINAL P. s. n Y J A r. 



573 



and listened at his door, which was slightly ajar. I could hear his 
voice, and so I knocked. There was no answer, but I still heard the 
voice. I peeped in. The man lay on his back, in bed, talking brokenly 
but with spirit, and punctuating with his arms, which he thrashed about, 
restlessly, as sick people do in delirium. I slipped in softly and bent 
over him. His mutterings and ejaculations went on. I spoke — merely 
a word, to call his attention. His glassy eyes and his ashy face were 
alight in an instant with pleasure, gratitude, gladness, welcome: 



/>. 




"HANDS off! my PERSON IS S.\CRED." 



" O, Sandy, you are come at last — how I have longed for you! 
Sit by me — do not leave me — never leave me again, Sandy, never 
again. Where is your hand.' — give it me, dear, let me hold it — there 
— now all is well, all is peace, and I am happy again — ive are happy 
again, isn't it so, Sandy.'' You are so dim, so vague, you are but a 
mist, a cloud, but you are here, and that is blessedness sufficient; and 



:^7^ FINAL r. S. BY M. T. 

I have your hand; don't take it away — it is for only a little while, I shall 
not require it long Was that the child? .... Hello- 
Central! . . . She doesn't answer. Asleep, perhaps.^ Bring her 
when she wakes, and let me touch her hands, her face, her hair, and 

tell her good-bye Sandy! Yes, you 

are there. I lost myself a moment, and I thought you were gone. 
. Have I been sick long.-* It must be so; it seems months to me. 
And such dreams! such strange and awful dreams, Sandy! Dreams 
that were as real as reality — delirium, of course, but so real! Why, I 
thought the king was dead, I thought you were in Gaul and couldn't 
get home, I thought there was a revolution; in the fantastic frenzy of 
these dreams, I thought that Clarence and I and a handful of my cadets 
fought and exterminated the whole chivalry of England! But even 
that was not the strangest. I seemed to be a creature out of a remote 
unborn age, centuries hence, and even that was as real as the rest! 
Yes, I seemed to have flown back out of that age into this of ours, and 
then forward to it again, and was set down, a stranger and forlorn in 
that strange England, with an abyss of thirteen centuries yawning 
between me and you! between me and my home and my friends! be- 
tween me and all that is dear to me, all that could make life worth the 
living! It was awful— awfuler than you can ever imagine, Sandy. Ah, 
watch by me, Sandy — stay by me ever}- moment — dotit let me go out 
of my mind again; death is nothing, let it come, but not with those 
dreams, not with the torture of those hideous dreams — I cannot endure 

M«/ again Sandy .-^ " 

He lay muttering incoherently some little time; then for a time he 
lay silent, and apparently sinking away toward death. Presently his 
fingers began to pick busily at the coverlet, and by that sign I knew 
that his end was at hand. With the first suggestion of the death- 
rattle in his throat he started up slightly, and seemed to listen; then 
he said : 



FINAL P. S. B Y M. T. 



5 75 



"A buttle? It is the king! The drawbridge, there! 

Man the battlements! — turn out the — " 

He was getting up his last "effect; " but he never finished it. 




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rom)^\ o_ 



APR 1 3 19921